Congress-ruled states are among the top-ranking ones as far as vaccine wastage is concerned. Jharkhand reported a whopping wastage of over 37% and Chhattisgarh over 30%. This is an unusually high percentage of wastage and needs to be looked at from the angles of pilferage and even black marketing.
A press release dated 25 May by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) says:
Whereas States has been urged repeatedly to keep vaccine wastage below 1%, many states such as Jharkhand (37.3%), Chhattisgarh (30.2%), Tamil Nadu (15.5%), Jammu and Kashmir (10.8%), Madhya Pradesh (10.7%) are reporting much higher wastage than the national average (6.3%).
At 37.3 and 30.2 percent, each both the Congress-ruled states show an extraordinarily high amount of vaccine wastage. Even as Congress CMs attempt to pin the blame on the Centre, the MoHFW press release shows a different picture.
Implementation of the Liberalized and Accelerated Phase-3 Strategy of Covid-19 Vaccination has started from 1st May 2021.
Under the Strategy, every month 50% of the total Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) cleared vaccine doses of any manufacturer would be procured by Govt. of India. It would continue to make these doses available to the State Govts totally free of cost as was being done earlier.
The government of India has so far provided, both through the free of cost category and through direct state procurement category, more than 21.89 crore vaccine doses (21,89,69,250) to States/UTs.
Of this, the total consumption, including wastages is 19,93,39,750 doses (as per data available at 8 AM today).
More than 1.77 crore COVID Vaccine doses (1,77,67,850) are still available with the States/UTs to be administered.
Furthermore, 7 lakh (7,00,000) vaccine doses are in the pipeline and will be received by the States/UTs within the next 3 days.
It is worth noting that despite the wastage states have a significant amount of vaccine stock. However, instead of looking at controlling, wastage Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren chose to play to the gallery and bash PM Modi after the latter reached out to Soren to review the situation in the state. Soren should be concentrating on ensuring vaccines aren’t wasted rather than giving juicy soundbites that are good for political one-upmanship but do not help citizens battling with the pandemic.
Uttar Pradesh and Assam have already ordered vaccine doses and vaccination programs are well underway in these states. States where Congress is in power, on the other hand, seem to be more interested in playing politics. Congress-ruled Rajasthan has put the 18-45 age group vaccination on hold as has Maharashtra, where Congress is part of the ruling coalition, citing ‘shortage of doses’.
It is worth pondering as to how UP and Assam are able to procure vaccines while Maharashtra and Rajasthan aren’t. Jharkhand CM Soren also cited an ‘acute shortage’ of vaccines and wanted corporates to step in and help the state. Even Chhattisgarh has been saying that the state is faced with shortages of vaccines. It is surprising how vaccine shortfalls have been selectively happening in states where Congress is in power.
It must not be forgotten that opposition led by Congress had purposely fuelled suspicions regarding vaccines made in Bharat. Also, several non-NDA states such as Delhi, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala among others have been raising false alarms regarding a shortage of vaccines merely to push for American vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.
It is essential that the Centre conducts a vaccine audit so as to ensure that vaccine isn’t being wasted and also get to the root of claims made by Congress-ruled states regarding vaccine shortages. It is also important to ascertain whether pilferage and black marketing are being resorted to which is only possible with an audit.
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