COVID-19 vaccines in India are at risk of expiring while anxious senior citizens wait for their turn
- Only about half of the supplied
vaccinesthat are slated to expire as early as May have been administered.
- This has led to fears that precious vials may go waste while vulnerable senior citizens wait anxiously for their turn to get immune.
- “There is a lack of flexibility, transparency, and urgency as far as the ongoing national
COVIDvaccination drive is concerned.” - Dr Vipin M. Vashishtha
India has administered over 10 million COVID-19
On Thursday (Feb 18), the union health ministry highlighted that “India is third globally, after the US and the UK, in highest cumulative vaccination numbers.” And while the ministry seems pleased with itself for accomplishing the mammoth task of administering 1,07,15,204 vaccinations (as of 20 February 2021) in a matter of 35 days, a closer look at the numbers brings to the fore some gaping issues.
Dr Vipin M. Vashishtha — Former Convener, IAP Committee on Immunization, and Pediatrician at Mangla Hospital & Research Center, Bijnor, UP — tells Business Insider that, “we are lagging in delivering vaccines to the needy despite the availability of plenty of vaccine stocks.”
And though the next phase of vaccinations is due to begin in March, state goverments are waiting for some clarity from the Centre on whether the third phase of the rollout will include citizens above the age of 50 with comorbidities, and if yes, how are they going to register for the vaccination?
Tech is not helping at this point
To make the matter worse, multiple sources are reporting major technical glitches with the government’s Covid vaccine intelligence network application (
However, hospitals are reporting that people who have received the first shot are not appearing in the booster-shot list. In some cases, the same name is occurring in the list of those who need to take the booster shot, as well as the list of those who have received both their inoculations.
The pace of vaccination is slower than desired
Only around 43% of health care workers (HCW) have received the first dose of vaccine in Maharashtra, where after a brief lull, the number of active cases has spiked considerably. Whereas in Tamil Nadu, only 3.2 lakh HCWs have received their shots despite having received 12.3 lakh vials of vaccination. In Karnataka, of the 17.1 lakh doses received, only 5.8 lakh have been administered. The second dose administration status is even more dismal, with only around 1 in 10 health care workers getting their booster shot.
Doctor Vashishtha believes that the “Ministry of Health (MoH) is adopting a rigid stand without addressing the newly-emerging scientific developments.” This is particularly with regards to the fact that a Word Health Organization expert panel recommends a longer interval of 8-12 week interval between the first and the second dose of the
According to Dr Vashishtha, “There is a lack of flexibility, transparency, and urgency as far as the ongoing national COVID vaccination drive is concerned.” He stresses that the private sector services that have been totally neglected should have been availed to ramp up the vaccination process. And while the Indian administration may be chuffed that they have so far administered around 10 million doses in a record time, Dr Vashitha notes that “if one analyses the number of vaccine doses administered per 100 people, we are at the bottom of the table.”
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