Vaccine wastage in five states is higher than 6.5 per cent, the centre said. (Representational)

New Delhi:

The average of COVID-19 vaccine wastage in India is 6.5 per cent, with Telangana and Andhra Pradesh recording 17.6 and 11.6 per cent wastage respectively, the Centre said today as it called for optimal utilisation of the jabs.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that 3.51 crore vaccine doses have been administered till now in the country, which include 1.38 crore beneficiaries aged 45-60 years with specific co-morbidities and those above 60 years who have been given the first dose.

On March 15, 8.34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered worldwide, of which India alone administered 36 per cent of doses, he said.

Mr Bhushan said COVID-19 vaccine wastage in five states — Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir — is higher than 6.5 per cent, which is the national average.

“The message we have shared with states is that vaccines are invaluable commodities. They are public health goods and therefore vaccines have to be optimally utilised. Vaccine wastage has to be drastically reduced. Any reduction in wastage means that you end up inoculating more people and therefore the chances of disrupting the chain of infection grow that much more,” he said.

On the increase in daily COVID-19 cases from March 1-15, he said about 70 districts in 16 states have registered more than 150 per cent increase in active cases, while 55 districts in 17 states have registered 100-150 per cent rise in cases.

Most of these districts are in west and north India.

Elaborating on the rise in cases in states, he said, “If we look at Maharashtra, 60 per cent of all active cases are concentrated in Maharashtra and 45 per cent of new deaths are concentrated in Maharashtra.”

“On March 1, an average of 7,741 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to average 13,527.The positivity rate on March 1 used to be 11 per cent which rose to 16 per cent by March 15,” he said.

Noting that the high positivity rate is a matter of concern, he said the tests numbers are not increasing at the same rate as the positivity rate is increasing.

“So our advice to the states, specially Maharashtra, is that there is a need to increase the testing rate, specially the RT-PCR rate,” he said.

In Punjab on March 1, an average of 531 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to average 1338. The positivity rate has doubled and RT-PCR share is 89 per cent, he said.
In Chandigarh on March 1, an average of 49 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to average 111. The positivity rate has increased from 3.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent and RT-PCR share is 40 per cent.

“We would want a distinct increasing trend of tests in which RT-PCR share is substantially higher than the current 40 per cent share,” he said.

In Chattisgarhh on March 1, an average of 239 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to average 430. The positivity rate increased from 1.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent and RT-PCR share is 34 per cent. So, again, we would want the RT-PCR tests to increase to up to 70 per cent and also an overall increase in testing.

In Gujarat on March 1, an average of 398 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to average 689. The positivity rate increased from 2.4 per cent to 4 per cent and RT-PCR share is 50 per cent.

In Karnataka, on March 1, an average of 443 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to average 751. The positivity rate increased from 0.8 per cent to 1.3 per cent and RT-PCR share is 93 per cent.

To handle the increasing cases especially in 12 states, states have been advised to ensure strict adherence to mask wearing, physical distancing and hand hygiene along with greater vigilance and monitoring at the highest levels for all potential events where crowds gather.

They have asked to ensure clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths and efficient implementation of ”test, track and treat” strategy.

There should be significantly increased testing in all districts and an increase in the proportion of RT PCR tests to a minimum of 70 per cent.

“We are advising the states to ensure all close contacts of any positive person are traced, isolated and tested in 72 hours. They have asked to identify clusters, focus on surveillance and stringent implementation of containment zone approach and undertake priority vaccination of identified groups in districts reporting higher cases,” he said.

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