After reporting a high vaccine wastage of nearly 7% in the initial four months after COVID-19 vaccination was rolled out in January, Karnataka has managed to not only curtail wastage, but also extract and administer more doses from each vial since May.
Vaccine usage is calculated as the proportion of vaccine administered out of the total vaccine allotted. According to official data, the State has recorded a negative wastage (-2.23%), thereby administering vaccine to 1,75,165 more people than intended in the assigned stock to vaccination centres from May 1 till July 23. State health officials attributed this to meticulous micro-planning of vaccine sessions and efficient vaccine administration.
The net wastage of Covishield from May 1 till July 23 was -2.72%, which means 1,67,917 additional doses were extracted from the stock assigned to the vaccination centres. This is far more than the 7,248 additional doses (-1.74%) extracted from Covaxin stocks.
Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar told The Hindu that Karnataka had one of the lowest wastage rates of COVID-19 vaccine in the country. “Our State has a negative wastage rate, which means that we have been able to administer more doses than we have received by using the buffer dose in the vials. This was possible by meticulous micro-planning at each vaccination centre. The credit goes to our health officials and nursing staff,” he said.
Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra said the State was overall able to save 1,75,165 doses (both Covishield and Covaxin put together) thanks to efficient vaccine administration at the field level and expertise of the vaccinators. “Initially, our wastage was high. But now, since the demand for vaccine is also high, we have ensured careful transportation of the stocks and meticulous planning of vaccine sessions. Now, our health workers (vaccinators) open a vial only after the required number of beneficiaries are available — 20 people for Covaxin and 10 for Covishield,” he said.
“The most common problem seen is incorrect planning. Sometimes the vial is opened but there are only a few beneficiaries, so the remaining doses in the vial go to waste. Another factor is that once opened, the vial should be used within four hours, so if the number of people who turn up for vaccination is low, there will be vaccine wastage. This is apart from logistical issues,” he explained.
Arundathi Chandrashekar, State Mission Director, National Health Mission, said that with each vial having one extra dose, vaccinators have now been drawing around 11 doses from some Covishield vials and 21 from Covaxin vials. “For optimal use, if there are only four persons waiting at a time, when a Covishield vial is to be opened they request people to wait for a few minutes till another six or seven people turn up. This has helped us prevent wastage and also ensure an extra dose from many vials,” she said.
The State has so far administered 2,87,75,216 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and has a stock of around six lakh doses as on Saturday. This includes four lakh doses that arrived on the day, the Health Commissioner said.
Highs and lows
While the highest ‘negative wastage’ has been recorded in Bagalkot (-8.6%), Shivamogga (-6.4%), and Hassan (-6.3%), Vijayapura has registered the highest cumulative wastage of 2.1%. Apart from Vijayapura, Raichur (0.8%) and Mysuru (0.1%) are the only districts that do not have a negative wastage.