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Huge vaccine waste reported as India battles deadly Covid-19 wave

Huge vaccine waste reported as India battles deadly Covid-19 wave

dpa
New Delhi
A huge number of vaccine doses have gone to waste in India even as several states report vaccine shortages, hindering the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 4.4 million doses out of 100 million doses were wasted between the start of the inoculation campaign in January through April 11, according to data shared by the Health Ministry in response to a query filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
On Tuesday, India registered its deadliest day since the pandemic began, reporting 1,761 deaths, taking the toll to over 180,000.
As several sites across India ran out of doses, including a main vaccination centre in Mumbai, courts intervened and excoriated the authorities for bad planning.
“Hundreds of thousands of people could have vaccinated with doses that were wasted, helping control the second Covid wave that is sweeping the country,” Vivek Pandey, a social activist who filed the RTI told dpa, adding the ministry’s reply did not specify how the waste occurred.
Five states including Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Telangana, among the worst-affected provinces, recorded the highest number of wasted doses.
Vaccines can wind up being discarded due to damages and breakage during transportation and storage, for example, or if the vaccine is exposed to heat or is frozen; if the expiry date has been reached or if unused vials are returned from sites.
“These drops that can save lives, are being wasted. We are losing valuable and young lives. The pandemic does not discriminate,” the Delhi High Court said, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
The judges also ordered the government to ensure supplies of medical oxygen in hospitals in New Delhi, the worst-affected city in the country. Two top hospitals were left with only a few hours’ worth of oxygen stocks left, broadcaster NDTV reported.
The information on wasted vaccines emerged a day after the government decided to expand its inoculation campaign to include everyone over the age of 18 as of May 1. Jabs are presently restricted to frontline workers and those aged 45 and above.
The Finance Ministry has allotted around 600 million dollars to vaccine makers in India to boost production of Covid-19 jabs.
So far, the country has administered some 127 million doses.
More than 259,000 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, taking India’s total overall to more than 15.3 million.
The country’s worst-hit areas have announced lockdowns, curfews and other restrictions, as their health care systems are stretched to their limits, and graveyards and crematoria are overburdened.

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