Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday, May 31, alleged that Rajasthan wasted nearly 11.5 lakh doses of the coronavirus vaccine. However, the state government denied the claims, stating that the wastage reported was less than 2 percent.
Speaking to the media over a virtual conference, Shekhawat said that vials of vaccine were thrown into garbage dumps. Around 10 people can be vaccinated from a single vial.
'Learn From Kerala'
The minister urged the state to ramp up the vaccination drive and quoted Kerala's example, which conducted a comprehensive drive and has reported the least wastage.
"The state government first asked for permission to vaccinate 18 years and above age group at its level. Then creates a drama of global tender. When they were unsuccessful, the Congress government started blaming the Centre," NDTV quoted Shekhawat as saying.
Principal Secretary (Medical and Health), Akhil Arora, also refuted reports of vaccine wastage. He directed the district collectors to conduct a special audit of vaccination at places where the wastage was reported for further cross-checking.
According to media reports, Khatkad and Lakeri, and Indergarh in the Bundi district reported the maximum wastage. The people in the rural areas of the district have been reluctant to get inoculated. The doses are to be administered within four hours of opening the vial, but the health workers are now forced to throw them into the dustbin after the due time surpasses.
Union Health Minister Urges Probe
Following the reports, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan urged the state's Health Minister Raghu Sharma to probe reports of alleged wastage in the state on priority.
In his letter, Vardhan mentioned that 500 vials of COVID-19 vaccines had reportedly been dumped in the waste bins at 35 Covid vaccination centres in the state and said it was 'not acceptable. He urged the minister to investigate the matter.
Vardhan also requested Sharma to direct the concerned officials to implement a strategic plan to optimise vaccine utilisation and reduce avoidable wastage.
While the vaccine shortage has severely hit the vaccination drive, several states have continued to report vaccine wastage, some higher than the national average of 6 percent and the permissible limit of 10 percent.
According to a report by Mint, Jharkhand has reported 37.3 percent vaccine wastage, followed by Chhattishgarh at 30.2 percent, and Tamil Nadu at 15.5 percent.
While Jammu and Kashmir reported 10.8 per cent vaccine wastage, Madhya Pradesh recorded 10.7 percent, which is higher than the national average. The Centre has requested the states to keep vaccine wastage less than a percent and make use of the available flexibilities on the CoWIN app to enhance the pace of vaccination drive.