Wastage higher in Covaxin as demand plummets
Karnataka that had managed to extract and administer extra doses from each COVID-19 vaccine vial till July end, has again reported a wastage of 0.06%. The wastage is especially seen in Covaxin at 0.82%.
Although the State has recorded ‘negative wastage’ in Covishield thereby extracting 3,43,951 extra doses from the overall usage, as many as 46,472 doses of Covaxin have been wasted so far. With this, Covaxin wastage has been recorded at 0.82% as of October 7.
Vaccine usage is calculated as the proportion of vaccines administered out of the total allotted. After the COVID-19 vaccination was rolled out in January, a vaccine wastage of nearly 7% was being reported initially. However, by July 23, 2021, this turned into ‘negative wastage’ of -2.23% thereby adding a total of 1,75,165 doses to the assigned stock in vaccination centres. State Health officials attributed this to meticulous micro planning of the vaccine sessions.
According to data from the Health Department, the net wastage of Covishield from May 1 till July 23 was -2.72%, which resulted in 1,67,917 additional doses being extracted from the stock assigned to the vaccination centres. This was far more than the 7,248 additional doses (-1.74%) extracted from Covaxin stocks.
Now, as of October 7, while ‘negative wastage’ of Covishield reduced from -2.72% to -0.7%, districts reported a cumulative loss of 46,472 doses (0.82%) of Covaxin.
Highest in Bagalkot
While Bagalkot recorded the the highest Covaxin wastage at 10.83%, Kalaburagi (3.2%), Dharwad (2.62%), Vijayapura (2.57%) and Chitradurga (2.42%) followed.
Cumulatively (both Covishield and Covaxin together), while Bagalkot recorded a wastage of 2.9%, Kalaburagi and Hassan recorded a wastage of 2% each. While Ballari and Chitradurga recorded a wastage of 1.8% each, Vijayapura and Koppal recorded 1.7% each.
Sources said this wastage was mainly because the State is facing a shortage of auto-disabled syringes of 0.5 millilitre capacity. This variety with low dead space (LDS) is preferred for COVID vaccination as the syringe breaks after a single use and ensures low wastage. Due to the shortage, the department is now supplying districts with 2ml syringes and the use of larger syringes is one of the reasons resulting in spillage of doses, sources said.
Admitting that there is a short supply of syringes from the Centre, Arundathi Chandrashekar, State Mission Director, National Health Mission, said syringes used for routine immunisation were being diverted for COVID vaccines.
She attributed the Covaxin wastage to the low demand for this vaccine now. “Initially there was high demand, especially among youngsters, to get Covaxin shots. However, now only those who are due for second doses are seeking it,” she said.
Pointing out that vaccinators usually open a vial only after the required number of beneficiaries are available – 20 for Covaxin and 10 for Covishield, she said: “As Covaxin takers are mainly second dose beneficiaries, we cannot send them away even if we do not have the required number.”
Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra said the wastage is negligible and least when compared to other States. Denying that the wastage was due to use of 2ml syringes, he said the 2ml syringes come with markings and vaccinators can easily load the exact 0.5ml of the vaccine from the vial. “We are also in the process of procuring the auto-disabled 0.5ml syringes,” he added.