New Delhi: The pace of COVID-19 vaccination across India is amongst the fastest in the world and in view of the evolving nature of the pandemic, it is expected that all beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021, the Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in a written reply, said while there have been instances of vaccine wastage in states and Union territories (UTs), but extra doses have also been extracted from a given vial according to the Co-WIN portal.
The vaccine doses wasted and maximum possible doses extracted beyond the labelled quantity are taken into account to arrive at vaccine wastage figures for a state, he noted.
The minister was responding to a question on whether the states/UTs are not keeping up the pace of the vaccination and wasting the doses.
Between May 1, 2021 to July 13, 2021, a total of 2.49 lakh doses were wasted, while 41.12 lakh extra doses were extracted beyond the labelled quantity, he said.
Mandaviya underlined that regular review meetings are held with states and UTs to review all aspects of the vaccination drive, including vaccine wastage, and they are advised to keep the wastage to the minimum.
Regular advice in this regard is also communicated to them through regular letters from the Ministry of Health, he said.
Asked if the government has decided to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to the entire population free of cost on priority basis and if so, the target fixed to administer the doses, the health minister said according to Revised Guidelines for Implementation of National COVID Vaccination Program, which came into effect from June 21, all citizens aged 18 years and above, irrespective of their income status, are entitled to free vaccination at all government vaccination centres.
The COVID-19 vaccination is an ongoing and dynamic process, which is being guided by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) on the basis of concurrent scientific evidence.
"In view of the dynamic and evolving nature of COVID-19 pandemic, no fixed timeline at present can be indicated for the completion of the vaccination drive, however, it is expected that all beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021," he said.
Mandaviya further informed that in accordance with the 'Revised Guidelines for Implementation of National COVID Vaccination Program', the Centre is procuring 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by vaccine manufacturers in the country.
These vaccines are provided free of cost to states/UTs on the basis of their pro rata target population, consumption pattern and vaccine wastage.
As on July 20, 2021, a total of 34.83 crore doses have been supplied free of cost by the Government of India to states and UTs, he told the House.
Two vaccines, namely Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech, that have been granted permission for restricted use in emergency situation by the national regulator are being procured by the central government for free supply to states/UTs, the minister said.
Apart from these two vaccines, Sputnik V marketed in India by Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Moderna vaccine have also received permission for restricted use in emergency situation by the national regulator. Sputnik V is being used in private hospitals for Covid vaccination, he added.