Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022
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Explained: What Happens To Covid Vaccines When They're Not Used

Since the vaccination drive began on January 16, close to 5,000 doses of Covid vaccines have been wasted in some states.

Explained: What Happens To Covid Vaccines When They're Not Used
Explained: What Happens To Covid Vaccines When They're Not Used -

We all have waited for an effective vaccine ever since the novel Covid-19 outbreak in December 2019 and now when the vaccine is out, there are reports that many doses are getting wasted.

The first question that comes to our mind is – Why and how vaccines are being wasted?

As per reports, since the vaccination drive began on January 16, close to 5,000 doses of Covid vaccines have been wasted in some states. Tripura reported the losses to be more than the 10 per cent threshold that the government has identified as possibly unavoidable due to the scale of the drive.

Why the wastage?

The vaccines need to be used within four hours – and the wastage has largely been due to vaccinators not finding enough recipients after opening vials.

This wastage can’t be avoided as the two vaccines approved in India for use come in vials of 10 or 20 doses.

Medical experts say strict guidelines around vaccine eligibility are causing surplus doses to be discarded. Complicating logistics, both the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines require storage in ultra-cold temperatures, and must be used or thrown out within a few hours after a thawed vial has been opened, PTI reported.

“So far, 1,623 or 11 per cent of the total vaccine doses were wasted as many beneficiaries were not available during vaccination and droplets fall while shifting it to syringes. Another thing is that we need to use one vial within four hours after which it is of no use,” said Dr Kallol Roy, Tripura’s immunisation officer.

What happens to the unused vaccine?

They are a waste – when vaccines are not stored properly, they stop working effectively. Their capability is affected when they are stored outside of the correct temperature range.

The vaccine becomes spoiled and useless once the potency of a vaccine is lost. If the vaccine is ineffective, it can lead to a whole host of issues, including the patient not being fully protected against the coronavirus. 

The reports suggest that the vaccines are highly temperature-sensitive – especially live vaccines, which are negatively affected when the temperature is too high.

What’s the solution?

The issue of wastage has been addressed by the authorities to some degree by allowing vaccinators to call in people who were not scheduled to get doses on a particular day, helping increase turnout to compensate for hesitancy. Only 55 people out of 100, turned up since January 16. On Thursday, this number was – on an average – 49 out of every 100 in the close 500,000 vaccinations that took place. 

Some hospitals have decided to send shot reminders or drawing up waiting lists to have patients on standby to avoid wastage.  

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