Top government officials said that the average Covid-19 vaccine wastage in India is 6.5 per cent, with Telangana and Andhra Pradesh recording 17.6 and 11.6 per cent wastage respectively, as it called for optimal utilisation of the jabs.
The Centre also mentioned that inadequate training of vaccinators in drawing vaccine from multi-dose vials and lack of detailed planning at vaccination sites as the two major reasons for the wastage.
“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 added.
The second reason is the lack of planning at vaccination sites. According to operational guidelines, each vaccination session is expected to cater to a maximum of 100 beneficiaries. But, in remote areas, states can organise sessions for a lesser number of beneficiaries while ensuring that there is no vaccine wastage. “If the number of beneficiaries at a session is less, it is clubbed with other sessions,” the guidelines state.
According to official data, four states and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have reported wastage above the national mark of 6.5 per cent: Telangana (17.6 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (11.6 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (9.4 per cent), Karnataka (6.9 per cent) and J&K (6.6 per cent).
Addressing a press conference, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that 3.51 crore vaccine doses have been administered till now in the country, which includes 1.38 crore beneficiaries aged 45-60 years with specific co-morbidities and those above 60 years who have been given the first dose.
On March 15, 8.34 million Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered worldwide, of which India alone administered 36 per cent of doses, he said.
Bhushan said Covid-19 vaccine wastage in five states Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir is higher than 6.5 per cent, which is the national average.
On the increase in daily Covid-19 cases from March 1-15, he said about 70 districts in 16 states have registered more than 150 per cent increase in active cases, while 55 districts in 17 states have registered a 100-150 per cent rise in cases.
Most of these districts are in the west and north India.
Elaborating on the rise in cases in states, he said, “If we look at Maharashtra, 60 per cent of all active cases are concentrated in Maharashtra and 45 per cent of new deaths are concentrated in Maharashtra.”
“On March 1, an average of 7,741 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 13,527. The positivity rate on March 1 used to be 11 per cent which rose to 16 per cent by March 15,” he said.
Noting that the high positivity rate is a matter of concern, he said the tests numbers are not increasing at the same rate as the positivity rate is increasing.
“So our advice to the states, especially Maharashtra, is that there is a need to increase the testing rate, especially the RT-PCR rate,” he said.
In Punjab on March 1, an average of 531 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 1338. The positivity rate has doubled and RT-PCR share is 89 per cent, he said.
In Chandigarh on March 1, an average of 49 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 111. The positivity rate has increased from 3.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent and the RT-PCR share is 40 per cent.
In Chattisgarh on March 1, an average of 239 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 430. The positivity rate increased from 1.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent and the RT-PCR share is 34 per cent. So, again, we would want the RT-PCR tests to increase to up to 70 per cent and also an overall increase in testing.
In Gujarat on March 1, an average of 398 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 689. The positivity rate increased from 2.4 per cent to 4 per cent and the RT-PCR share is 50 per cent.
In Karnataka, on March 1, an average of 443 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 751. The positivity rate increased from 0.8 per cent to 1.3 per cent and the RT-PCR share is 93 per cent.
To handle the increasing cases especially in 12 states, states have been advised to ensure strict adherence to mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand hygiene along with greater vigilance and monitoring at the highest levels for all potential events where crowds gather.
They have asked to ensure clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths and efficient implementation of the ‘test, track and treat’ strategy.
There should be significantly increased testing in all districts and an increase in the proportion of RT PCR tests to a minimum of 70 per cent.
“We are advising the states to ensure all close contacts of any positive person are traced, isolated and tested in 72 hours. They have asked to identify clusters, focusing on surveillance and stringent implementation of containment zone approach and undertake priority vaccination of identified groups in districts reporting higher cases,” he said.