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States with high vaccine wastage may face supply restrictions

More than 10,000 private healthcare institutions across the country are involved in the covid-19 vaccination programme. apPremium
More than 10,000 private healthcare institutions across the country are involved in the covid-19 vaccination programme. ap

The government has found some instances of diversion from eligible beneficiaries to ineligible ones. Early April, the health ministry directed the Delhi government to take stringent action against some private covid vaccination centres (CVCs) where irregularities were found in identification of beneficiaries for covid-19 vaccination

The central government may restrict vaccine supplies to states showing high vaccine wastage as it suspects a large number of doses may be diverted by private hospitals to ineligible citizens, a top government official said.

“We have noticed that higher the per capita income of the state, the higher the wastage. It has come to the fore mostly after private hospitals were introduced into the vaccination programme. Wastage is higher in private hospitals than in public hospitals because they have a ready channel for the wastage. This is given to the below 45 years rich man who wants to get the vaccine. So, if wastage is actually 5%, it is shown as 15% and 10% is sold in the hospitals," the official said under condition of anonymity.

While the Centre has been telling states to keep wastage below 1%, Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month said that over 10% of covid-19 vaccines in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are being wasted and urged authorities of these states to review the same. According to health ministry data released on Tuesday, among major states, Tamil Nadu wastes vaccines the most at 8.83%, followed by Assam (7.7%), Manipur (7.44%) and Haryana (5.72%).

The government has found some instances of diversion from eligible beneficiaries to ineligible ones. Early April, the health ministry directed the Delhi government to take stringent action against some private covid vaccination centres (CVCs) where irregularities were found in identification of beneficiaries for covid-19 vaccination. Co-WIN sample data (l9 March-3rd April) of vaccinated beneficiaries from this private CVCverified by the health ministry revealed that many were given vaccines in violation of the guidelines.

“We found several cases from Delhi and some western states wherein the hospitals inoculated people who were not eligible for vaccination. We have investigated the cases and taken proper action against the erring hospitals and the private vaccination centres. However, there have been no cases of black marketing or out-of-institution sales brought to our notice but we cannot rule this out when the vaccines will be sold in the market as states and private hospitals will be responsible for all inoculations," a health ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Vaccine registrations for those aged 18-44 began on 28 April on the Co-WIN platform and Aarogya Setu app as the Centre allowed states to carry out their own inoculation programmes under the phase three vaccination drive.

“We have tried to make the Co-WIN platform free from any glitches. To prevent diversion of vaccines to non-eligible persons, Co-WIN was developed this way that it wouldn’t register a non-eligible beneficiary. It is extremely important to clearly identify person who is getting vaccinated and keep a digital record on who gets vaccinated by whom, when and which vaccine. If people still try to do such diversion, no system is fool-proof," said R.S. Sharma, chairperson of the empowered group of covid vaccination.

asit.m@livemint.com

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