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NEW DELHI :

Hundreds of millions of unused Covishield and Covaxin vaccines will expire soon, resulting in massive losses to manufacturers Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech.

According to people aware of the matter, poor uptake in India has led to the wastage.

Serum Institute said around 100 million doses are set to be dumped and Bharat Biotech will junk 250 million doses.

Both companies have stopped production of covid-19 vaccines.

“The company has already stopped the production of Covishield vaccine due to poor demand of vaccine. We have around 100 million doses. Some of the vaccine’s doses have expired and some are near expiry," said a person familiar with the matter requesting anonymity adding that the production of Covovax however will continue as per requirement.

Serum Institute of India has supplied over 1.9 billion doses of Covishield vaccines globally so far.

Serum Institute did not respond to queries sent by Mint.

“Bharat Biotech has more than 200 million doses of Covaxin in bulk form and around 50 million doses in vials ready to use. Due to lack of product demand, production stoppage of Covaxin was initiated several months ago, earlier this year. Covaxin doses in vials are set to expire during early 2023, resulting in losses for the company," a Bharat Biotech spokesperson said.

During the first wave of pandemic, the Central government started working to develop indigenous covid vaccines which went through scientific research and multiple trials before being introduced for the public.

Vaccination drive began on 16 January 2020.

India has administered 2.19 billion doses, including precaution or booster doses. However, poor uptake has blighted the roll-out of booster doses.

In the last 24 hours, around 143,000 doses were administered.

Dr Pragya Yadav, senior scientist at the National Institute of Virology (NIV-Pune) said, “India has performed extremely well in terms of covid-19 vaccination. Large chunk of population has completed their vaccination doses."

However, she warned, “Those who have not taken their vaccine doses is due to vaccine hesitancy. Some people believe that Omicron is a mild variant. We urge all people to complete their vaccination for their safety."

The disastrous initial phases of the covid pandemic have led more than 44.6 million cases and 530,509 deaths in the last two years.

“Vaccine fatigue is very prevalent in the world now, especially in India. Now people are thinking that covid is like common cold and there is no need of vaccination. There is a lot of misinformation on social media regarding vaccines, such as children developing liver failure and liver clots and people dying of vaccine," said Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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