Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have the highest COVID-19 vaccine wastage in India

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Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have the highest COVID-19 vaccine wastage in India
Vial of the Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccineBCCL
  • The Indian states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have the highest vaccine wastage rates in the country, hitting double digits.
  • There are a total of five states with vaccine wastage higher than the nationwide average of 6.5%.
COVID-19 vaccines are in short supply making them ‘invaluable commodities’, according to India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). But, the wastage of vaccines is a growing concern in five Indian states — Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir.

All of these states have recorded vaccine wastage higher than the overall Indian average of 6.5%. The situation is especially critical in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh where vaccine wastage is double digits.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have the highest COVID-19 vaccine wastage in India
Indian states with the highest vaccine wastage rates as of March 16BI India

“Vaccine wastage has to be drastically reduced. Any reduction in wastage means that you end up inoculating more people, therefore the chances of disrupting the chain of infection grow that much more,” said the Health Ministry Secretary during the press conference on March 17.
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For instance, Telangana’s vaccine wastage is at 17.6%. This means that 176 doses out of every 1,000 doses are being wasted. High wastage inflates the demand for vaccines and raises procurement and supply-chain costs, which the government has to bear.

Right now, the procurement cost for the Covishield vaccine is ₹210 per dose and for Covaxin is ₹295 per dose. But, this price tag does not include the costs of logistics, supply chain and administering charges.

What is vaccine wastage?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), vaccine wastage is of two types — close and open vial wastage. Closed vial wastage is a result of improper cold chain and inventory management. Open vial wastage, on the other hand, occurs where health workers are forced to discard unused doses from multi-dose vials.
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In India’s case, the reason for vaccine wastage is not inefficient transportation or lack of cold storage but the number of doses within a single vial. Once a vial is opened, the doses have to be administered within a span of four hours.

There are around 20 doses per vial for Covaxin and 10 doses per vial for Covishield. Both of which can present an issue if there is a low turnout on a particular day, according to health officials.

“India’s Universal Immunisation Program, which provides free immunisation across the country, can be limited by nonparticipation of a misinformed clientele as well as difficulty in reaching isolated communities,” noted the Asian Development Bank ( ADB) in its February brief on vaccine rollouts.
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According to experts, while wastage of the COVID-19 vaccination doses can be brought down, it’s encouraging to see that things are not as bad as they were with the Rotavirus vaccine, in 2016. During the initial weeks of its rollout, the wastage was as high as 70%.

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