4.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were wasted in India — enough to vaccinate half of Bangalore

4.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were wasted in India — enough to vaccinate half of Bangalore
Vial containing one dose of the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII)BCCL
  • India has wasted 4.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since the vaccine drive began to April 11.
  • Eight states, including Kerala, West Bengal and Goa, reported zero wastage.
  • Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, has the highest vaccine waste rate of 12% followed by Haryana at 9%.
Vaccine wastage is lower than it was in March, but it’s still happening at a time when doses are in short supply — and the number of cases across India are surging.

India has wasted 4.6 million doses so far since the drive to vaccinate the population kicked off in January, according to data shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query.

4.6 million doses are enough to inoculate half of Bangalore. In a smaller city like Chandigarh, those doses are enough to vaccinate every citizen four times over.

The RTI filed by Vivek Pandey and reported by NDTV also reveals that the state with the highest wastage was Tamil Nadu, followed by Haryana.

Top 5 five Indian states with the highest vaccine wastage


StatePercentage of vaccine wastage
Tamil Nadu12%
Telangana 7.55%
Source: MoHFW’s response to Vivek Pandey’s RTI via NDTV

The list looks very different from a month ago, when the states with the highest vaccine wastage were Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir.

At the time, vaccine wastage in Telangana was as high as 17.6% — higher than Tamil Nadu right now.

Kerala, West Bengal and six other states have no vaccine wastage whatsoever

Eight states were also on the opposite side of the scales. Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Goa, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands as well as Lakshadweep had ‘zero wastage’.

When there’s a vaccine shortage, it goes without saying that responsible use is key to ensuring that not a drop goes wasted. And the zero vaccine wastage rates in states like Kerala and West Bengal show that the task is not impossible.

To boost the supply of vaccines in the market, the government has also proposed a 50/50 model. This where half of the supply of Covaxin and Covishield will go directly to the central government, whereas the other half will be available in the open market to private hospitals and state governments.

International players are also free to join the fray with any ‘ready to use’ vaccines. The imports of these vaccines will go into the non-central government route of procurement.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) has reportedly received an advance of ₹3,000 crore from the Indian government to scale up production. Bharat Biotech, which makes Covaxin, has received another ₹1,500 crore.

According to Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the issue isn’t that there is a shortage of vaccines — despite what some states may claim — but the lack of better planning. “We have made available vaccine doses to states and union territories from time to time and as we told you earlier that to bigger states we give supply of four days at once and on fourth and fifth day we replenish the supply. For smaller states, at once we supply 7-8 days vaccine doses and on the seventh or eighth day their supply is replenished," explained Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, last week.

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