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India's overall COVID-19 vaccine wastage rate 6.5%, highest in Telangana: Health Ministry

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh recorded 17.6 percent and 11.6 percent of vaccine wastage, respectively, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

March 19, 2021 / 08:21 PM IST

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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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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.
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