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Kolkata hospitals battle wastage of Covid vaccines

At KMC clinics, jab recipients are made to wait till there are enough people to open a vial to minimise wastage

Subhajoy Roy | Published 29.01.22, 10:19 AM
Representational image.

Representational image.


A number of private hospitals are reporting an increase in vaccine wastage because of low turnout for the jabs.

At Kolkata Municipal Corporation clinics, the jab recipients are made to wait till there are enough people to open a vial to minimise wastage.


Once a vial is opened, the doses have to be injected within four hours.

If any dose remains unused after four hours, it goes to waste. One hospital said four or five doses of Covaxin were going to waste every day. Another hospital said six doses were wasted on Thursday.

The hospitals are now adopting various strategies to prevent or reduce wastage.

“More Covaxin doses are being wasted than Covishield doses because Covaxin has fewer recipients than Covishield,” said an official of a private hospital.

“Four doses of Covishield and two doses of Covaxin were wasted in our hospital on Thursday. This rarely happened before. We are now thinking whether we should reduce the hours of vaccination. It may help as the number of people turning up within that time could be close to the number of doses in a vial,” said Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue Clinic.

Bengal health secretary Nayaran Swaroop Nigam said they would advise private hospitals to reduce the vaccination hours if they feel that would cut down vaccine wastage.

“The hospitals may compress the hours of vaccination to ensure there is less wastage,” he said.

KMC, too, faces the same problem.

KMC has instructed its staff to not open a 10-dose vial unless there are at least eight recipients.

In case of a 20-dose vial, there should be at least 17 recipients.

At the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS), five to six doses of Covaxin are going to waste every day.

The hospital is able to prevent wastage of Covishield doses by administering the leftover ones to its healthcare workers.

Officials at the hospital expressed the fear that Covishield doses, too, would go to waste once all healthcare workers are administered the booster dose.

“Most recipients of Covaxin are children in the 15-17 age group. Every day there are no recipients for four or five doses of Covaxin after a vial is opened,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director of Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.

“We are still able to avert the wastage of Covishield doses. If we see there are five or more doses left, we immediately call some of our healthcare workers and administer them booster doses. But if the demand for vaccination does not rise, there will be a problem with Covishield, too, once health-care workers are administered the booster dose,” said Venkatesh.

“When there are five or six people, we are making them wait till the eighth person comes. Such situations happen regularly,” said an official of the KMC.

“If on a given day there are only one or two recipients, we are requesting them to come the next day.”

The private hospitals, too, are doing the same if only two or three people turn up for the jab on a given day.

Last updated on 31.01.22, 08:29 AM

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