More than 1.84 crore COVID vaccine doses (1,84,90,522) are still available with the States/UTs to be administered and 11 lakh doses were in the pipeline and to be received by the States/UTs within the next three days, said an update from the Health Ministry on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Health Ministry said in a press statement that Jharkhand had ‘wasted’ nearly 37% vaccines while in Chhagtisgarh it was 30%.
“Whereas States have been urged repeatedly to keep vaccine wastage below 1%, many States such as Jharkhand (37.3%), Chhattisgarh (30.2%), Tamil Nadu (15.5%), Jammu and Kashmir (10.8%), Madhya Pradesh (10.7%) are reporting much higher wastage than the national average (6.3%),” the release noted.
Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, however, tweeted late on Wednesday that these numbers from the Health Ministry were “laughable.” The State's wastage was 4.65%, below the national average of 6.3%, he said.
Health Minister of Chattisgarh T.S. Singh Deo also tweeted that the figures attributed to Chhattisgarh were “erroneous and completely baseless.”
Of the vaccines supplied by the Central government for healthcare and frontline workers and for 45+ year olds, only 0.95% was wasted and for those in the 18-45 age group only 0.29% was wasted. “This is far better than national average of 6%,” Mr Singh Deo tweeted.
In a video conference of the States and Centre on May 21, the Health Minister “agreed,” according to Mr. Singh Deo, that there was a technical error in the Centre's portal which was inflating the wastage numbers and that the Centre would be coordinating with States to resolve the issue.
On May 26, figures from the Centre put Jharkhand’s wastage as 6.44% and Chattisgarh’s at 7.47%. Some States even show negative wastage, for instance Kerala at -4.16%, suggesting that more vaccine doses were extracted out of vials than what was actually supplied.
The Cowin web portal tracks vaccination at the district level but doesn't provide estimates on wastage. Details on vaccinations are expected to be immediately uploaded on the Cowin portal but delays in uploading such data, especially accounting for power outages and limited Internet connectivity in several parts of the country, are not unusual. At various points, during the vaccination drive since January, States have been reprimanded — occasionally congratulated — on their vaccine administration system.
NITI Ayog member and India’s top medical advisor to the government on COVID-19 V.K. Paul said on Thursday that the management of vaccines by some States were inadequate.
“In the non-government of India channel, States are getting 25% of the doses and private hospitals are getting 25% doses. However, the hiccups and issues faced by the people in the administration of these 25% doses by the States leave a lot to be desired. The behaviour of some of our leaders, who in spite of full knowledge of the facts on vaccine supply, appear on TV daily and create panic among the people is very unfortunate. This is not the time to play politics. We need everyone to unite in this fight.”
That a certain percentage of vaccines would be wasted — on account of transporting, breakage, improper administration — is built into vaccine distribution policy