With the high demand for coronavirus vaccine, states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have reported around 6.5 percent of COVID-19 ‘vaccine wastage’.

India is a big player in vaccine production and is one of the world’s largest producers of coronavirus vaccines. But as the number of COVID positives are still increasing, the most important question that is arising right now is: Will Indian pharmaceutical companies making these shot be able to produce enough number of doses required for the vast Indian population as well as for other countries to whom India promised to help?

While the answer to the above question is still awaited, India on the other hand has reported around 6.5 percent of COVID-19 vaccine wastage. Looking at the importance and less availability of the coronavirus vaccine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in a virtual meeting urged the authorities of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh to review the wastage of vaccines and ensure that no such wastage occurs.

Emerging ‘second-peak of coronavirus’ & ‘vaccine wastage’:

The COVID-19 cases in India are on the rise once again, and therefore, the daily vaccinations appear to have been ramped up this week. With the worrying spike, the nationwide immunisation drive against the virus has been rapidly increased with the aim to cover 300 million people by the month of August. The government has also increased its demand for the two home-made vaccines currently in use in the country – Covishield and Covaxin.

With such high demand for vaccines, there are some states in the country that are even contributing towards “vaccine wastage”. According to the data shared by the health ministry, it has been found that with India wasting over 6.5 percent vaccine doses, the state of Telangana is alone wasting over 17 percent of the vaccine shots.

As per various sources, it has also been reported that most COVID-19 vaccines are being wasted in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. These three states reported the maximum wastage of COVID vaccine, with Telangana coming out as the champion of vaccine wastage.

What exactly is ‘vaccine wastage’?

Vaccine wastage is one of the key components that need to be taken care of, majorly in today’s scenario. Especially talking in context to India, the reason for vaccine wastage is not inefficient transportation or lack of cold storage but the number of doses within a single vial. It is important to note that a single vial contains multiple doses and once the vial is opened, the doses have to be administered within a span of four hours.

Around 20 doses per vial are available for Covaxin, while 10 doses are the limit as far as a single vial of Covishield is concerned. And this turns out to be a major worry because if there is a low turnout on a particular day for vaccination, the vaccine in a vial goes wasted.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the vaccine gets wasted in two types: Close and open vial wastage. Closed vial wastage happens as a result of improper cold chain and inventory management. While, open vial wastage, on the other hand, occurs when unused doses are discarded by the authorities due to the presence of multi-doses in the vials.

Will India be able to meet the ‘vaccine demand’?

The Indian government started its first vaccination drive on January 16 and so far, the government has successfully completed the vaccination of over 37 million people. As per reports and various sources, nearly 130 million doses of Covishield from Serum Institute of India (SII) have been either exported or used domestically.

Apart from this, various pharmaceutical companies even ramped up their process of production to meet the domestic as well as global demands. The Indian government has also donated vaccines to a number of countries, with a particular emphasis on its neighbours in South Asia. As per UN data, India made more vaccine donations than China with over eight million doses exported to the needy countries, compared with 7.3 million doses provided by the Chinese government.