Many people are refusing Covaxin and Sputnik V jabs from vials past their ‘expiry date’ though the Union health ministry has extended the date by six months.
A man has complained to the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission that a private hospital was administering Covid jabs past their use-by date.
Some hospitals said the problem would persist if the dates on the labels were not changed in keeping with the Centre’s announcement on extension of the expiry date.
Ranjit Sur from Santoshpur in south Kolkata, who lodged the complaint, told the commission that his wife Krishna, a retired high school teacher, had recently gone to Medica Superspecialty Hospital on the EM Bypass in east Kolkata for the first dose of Covaxin.
“They said that the Covaxin in their stock had expiry date of October 31. But manufacturer Bharat Biotech has said it can be administered for another six months. I was very surprised to hear this,” Sur stated in his complaint.
“They said if my wife had to take Covaxin, she had to take that vaccine.”
Sur’s wife refused to take the jab.
“We went to Peerless Hospital but there, too, the authorities said the same thing. My wife did not take the vaccine. We have booked for Sputnik V on CoWin at another hospital,” Sur said on Friday.
Many vials of Covaxin and Sputnik V had initial expiry dates in September, October and November, depending on the manufacturing dates. The directorate general of health services’ Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (biological division) has since allowed the extension of the expiry dates of the two vaccines by six months.
The manufacturers accordingly informed the hospitals and state governments about the extension.
However, many people are still confused and apprehensive.
“We are helpless in such situations. There is no new label mentioning the extension of the expiry dates, although officially the dates have been extended. We can only show the documents available to the recipients,” said Alok Roy, chairman of the Medica group.
Peerless officials said they are also facing similar problems.
“Many people are expressing fears even though there are documents confirming the extension of the expiry dates. But we want to tell people that there is no reason for such apprehension because the Union health ministry has given the approval after proper studies,” said Sudipta Mitra, CEO of Peerless Hospital.
The hospital has around 6,000 doses of Covaxin.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences has stopped administering Sputnik V after some of the recipients expressed apprehensions, said officials. The hospital has 1,600 first doses of Sputnik V.
“We are not administering (Sputnik V) because some people have refused to take it
even after being shown the manufacturer's circular on the extension of the expiry dates. We have written to the manufacturer to change the label mentioning the new expiry date but are yet to get any reply,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health, of which the Mukundapur hospital is a flagship unit.