According to a provisional report, India’s vaccine drive surpassed the milestone of administering 55 crore and set a record in the last 24 hours. However, many vaccine doses provided to states and union territories remain unused.
The past 24 hours saw 88.13 lakh doses administered, taking the cumulative number of shots in arms to 554,730,609 spanning 6,212,108 sessions. Meanwhile, 2.25 crore worth of doses remain unutilised by states, union territories, and private facilities. The vaccine drive has seen states and union territories provided with more than 56.81 crore doses.
India federalised its approach to its vaccine drive in June, following a stalled rollout of shots despite ambitious plans by the Centre for the world’s largest inoculation programme and early signs of promise such as carrying out four million COVID-19 vaccinations faster than any other country. However, a strategy of vaccine diplomacy and – arguably – complacency when the pandemic appeared to be receding ahead of a brutal second wave hampered vaccine rollout.
This prompted a volte face in India’s approach to implementing its vaccine drive. “The Government of India itself will buy 75 percent of the total vaccine production from vaccine manufacturers and give it for free to the state governments,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined. Experts welcomed the revised approach.
Vaccine wastage has been flagged during the rollout of the vaccine drive, with some states recording wastage rates as high as 37.73 percent earlier in the pandemic. On May 25th, reports stated that Jharkhand registered 37.73 percent vaccine wastage. In Chhattisgarh, vaccine wastage stood at 30.2 percent; in Tamil Nadu, 15.5 percent; in Jammu and Kashmir, 10.8 percent; and in Madhya Pradesh, 10.7 percent versus the national average at the time of 6.3 percent. The Centre earlier articulated a target of vaccine wastage lower than one percent. Multiple states contested government figures on vaccine wastage, among them Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.