GUWAHATI: At the time when India opened vaccine registration for all over 18, figures from the Health Ministry showed that Assam recorded the third-highest vaccine wastage under India’s nationwide covid-19 inoculation program.
The Health Ministry said that Assam has wasted some 7.70% of vaccines so far. Lakshadweep recorded the highest vaccine wastage of 9.76% while Tamil Nadu came second with 8.83% vaccine waste.
On Tuesday, the union health ministry said that the Centre has provided over 15 Crore vaccine doses to the states and union territories (UTs) so far. It added that despite the wastage, over 1 crore vaccine doses were available with the states and UTs.
It added that more than 80 Lakh (86, 40,000) doses will also be supplied to the states and UTs within Friday.
Earlier on Thursday, the state’s health minister said that Assam has received 1.5 lakh more doses of the Covishield vaccine today. This takes our total availability of doses to 7, 70, 030, Sarma informed.
Uttar Pradesh had the maximum available doses, about 1 million, followed by Maharashtra 9, 00,000 doses and Bihar with 7, 50,000 doses.
Why the Wastage:
That a certain number of vaccines will be wasted was built into the Centre’s planning process. As per the Health Ministry in its operational guidelines on COVID-19 vaccination, the Wastage Multiplier Factor was calculated at 1.11, assuming an allowable programmatic wastage of 10%.
This number was factored into how many vials were allocated to states for the supply of vaccine to each administrative unit.
For the Covid19 vaccine, wastage in unopened vials can occur due to reasons like the vaccine reaching its destination after its expiry date or it has been exposed to the temperature outside its normal bounds; suspected contamination and poor vaccine administration practices.
Earlier, Sarma said that the wastage of vaccines in Assam has reduced to a much extend as people in the state have now come forward to take the jabs. “Initially, there were very few people coming up for the vaccines. Since a vial of vaccine contains 10 doses after being opened and will have to be used within few hours, vaccines got wasted initially. But with people are now lining up to get their jabs, it has stopped,” the minister said.
A vial after being opened usually should be used or discarded within four hours.
Assam vaccine coverage:
On Friday, Assam has vaccinated more than one lakh people. A total of 1, 27,555 people (all above 45 years) were administered with the jabs. So far, the total doses administered till Friday in the state was 24, 66,321. While some19, 35,166 people have taken the first jab, 5, 31,155 were done with both the shots.
Sarma informed that there were total 5, 37,720 vaccines available in stock till Friday evening.
However, despite the announcement of free vaccine for people between 18-44 years from May 1, the state health department has not yet started the process creating serious confusion amongst many. Health officials said that they were yet to receive any direction from the department to go ahead with administrating vaccines to people above 18 years so far.
However, on Friday, the minister had tweeted: “Our gratitude to Hon’ble PM Sri @narendramodi Ji Assam gets 5 lakh + #COVID19Vaccine by GOI (371480 Covishield; 128830 Covaxin) for 18+ people. We are procuring it immediately through funds of Assam Arogya Nidhi. Our vaccination will be FREE FOR all citizens.”
Though the online registration for people above 18 years has already begun, the web portal was not allowing scheduling the vaccination.
He had informed that the state government has already placed an order of one crore vaccines from the Serum Institute of India and another one crore from Bharat Biotech.