Andhra Pradesh has the second-highest wastage of vaccines in the country, with 11.6% wastage. The national average for the same is around 6.5%. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that more than 10% of vaccines are going to waste in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh. He added that these states must urgently address the issue. Vaccine wastage is lowest in small states like Himachal Pradesh (1.4%), Uttarakhand (1.6%), and Tripura (2.2%).
The Centre has urged states to take measures to minimize vaccine wastage. Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that vaccines are invaluable commodities. As public health goods, they must be used optimally. Any reduction in wastage implies a higher proportion of inoculation, thereby improving the chances of disrupting the chain of infections. Once a vaccine vial is opened, doses need to be administered within four hours, thus making it vital for health workers to maintain the flow of recipients. One of the main reasons for vaccine wastage in states such as Andhra Pradesh is that, while many vaccination centers have been crowded in urban areas, rural centers have had to influence people to get the vaccine due to a lack of awareness among the public. The lack of proper flow of recipients has led to most of the wastage.
COVID-19 cases have consistently been rising in Andhra Pradesh since February. 58 new cases were recorded on March 1st and the same increased to 253 cases in less than three weeks. The Union health ministry identified 70 districts as ‘districts of concern’ on Wednesday. Five districts in Andhra Pradesh were identified as districts of concern. These include the Krishna district, which recorded a 171% increase, followed by East Godavari (150%), Visakhapatnam (100%), Chittoor (92%), and Guntur (70%). These are districts that have recorded a high increase in active cases in the first 15 days of March.
Andhra Pradesh’s vaccine wastage is almost 12% which means that out of every 1,000 doses, 120 doses are being wasted. Not only does this put a damp on breaking the chain of infections, but also leads to economic wastage. High wastage inflates the demand for vaccines and increases procurement and supply-chain costs. Right now, the procurement cost for the Covishield vaccine is ₹210 per dose and for Covaxin is ₹295 per dose. But, this price tag does not include the costs of logistics, supply chain, and administering charges.