Why are coronavirus vaccine doses being wasted in India?

Sagar Malik
·3-min read

Why are coronavirus vaccine doses being wasted in India?
Why are coronavirus vaccine doses being wasted in India?

19 Mar 2021: Why are coronavirus vaccine doses being wasted in India?

Senior government officials, who are monitoring India's coronavirus vaccination drive, have identified two key reasons behind some states reporting high levels of vaccine wastage, The Indian Express reported.

The reasons are 1) Improper training of vaccinators in drawing vaccine from multi-dose vials, and 2) Lack of detailed planning at the vaccination sites.

Here are more details on this.

Fact: Telangana, Karnataka, UP reporting high wastage levels

According to official data, four states and one Union Territory have reported vaccine wastage above the national mark of 6.5%. They are Telangana (17.6%), Andhra Pradesh (11.6%), Uttar Pradesh (9.4%), Karnataka (6.9%), and Jammu and Kashmir (6.6%).

Details: What happens when vaccinators are not properly trained?

If the vial contains doses for 10 people but less show up, the rest goes to waste.

However, vaccine wastage is not happening only because lesser people show up and the vial is open, sources told TIE.

"Even in situations where the required number of people are available, if vaccinators are not properly trained, they end up drawing maybe only nine doses against ten."

Fact: Well-trained vaccinators can use vials more efficiently

Well-trained vaccinators, on the other hand, can use vials more efficiently. "The trained vaccinators will tell you that even in a vial of ten doses, you can actually take out eleven. This is a crucial aspect to reduce vaccine wastage," an official said.

Details: How does lack of planning affect vaccination drive?

The second reason behind vaccine wastage is the lack of planning at vaccination centers, the report states.

As per operational guidelines, each vaccination session is expected to cater to a maximum of 100 beneficiaries.

However, in remote and sparsely populated regions, states are allowed to organize the sessions for a lesser number of beneficiaries while ensuring that there is no vaccine wastage.

Brighter side: Since beginning of drive, India's vaccine wastage reduced

However, it should be noted that India's vaccine wastage has reduced significantly since the beginning of the vaccination program. In the first two weeks of the drive, the vaccine wastage was around 18-19%.

Meanwhile, some states where the vaccine wastage is lesser than the national average are: Rajasthan (5.6%), Assam (5.5%), Gujarat (5.3%), West Bengal (4.8%), Bihar (4%), and Tamil Nadu (3.7%).

PM's statement: States should target zero wastage of vaccines: PM

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed states to examine reasons for the wastage and monitor it on a daily basis.

"By wasting the doses of vaccine, we are denying another beneficiary the right to get vaccinated. The states have to immediately correct the drawbacks of planning and governance at the local level to reduce vaccine waste," he said.

Situation: 3.46 crore vaccine doses administered across India

Reportedly, more than 3.46 crore vaccine doses have been administered across India so far.

In the current phase, citizens aged above 60 years and those aged between 45 and 59 but with co-morbidities are being given vaccine jabs.

Worryingly, several states have been reporting a spike in COVID-19 cases lately. The national tally stands at 1.15 crore and the death toll at 1.59 lakh.