India's overall COVID-19 vaccine wastage rate stood at 6.5 percent, the Union health ministry said on March 17. The maximum amount of wastage has been reported in Telangana, followed by Andhra Pradesh.
The numbers were released by the health ministry shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his virtual meeting with chief ministers, marked concern over the wastage of anti-COVID shots.
"The Prime Minister expressed disappointment on vaccine wastage. It is a precious commodity," said Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog.
"India's overall percentage of COVID-19 vaccine wastage is 6.5 percent. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh recorded 17.6 percent and 11.6 percent of vaccine wastage, respectively. We have told the states that vaccine wastage needs to be drastically reduced," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Modi, during his interaction with the CMs, stressed that the vaccines should be used in the most optimum way to minimise the wastage.
The doses which were received earlier should be given to the beneficiaries first, as the shelf life of vaccine is limited, he said.
Notably, the two vaccines approved by India so far - Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin - have a shelf life of six months.
The health ministry, during the press briefing, noted that the country has so far administered a total of 3.51 crore vaccine doses.
"On March 15, 8.34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered worldwide, of which India alone administered 36 percent of doses," Bhushan said.