Mumbai: In Pune, where the Covishield vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, about 1.41 lakh doses of this vaccine are fast approaching their expiry date.
According to a Monday report of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) accessed by ThePrint, the doses are lying at 47 vaccination centres across Pune municipal limits. But these unused doses are an issue only in private hospitals and not government centres, PMC health officer Dr Suryakant Devkar told ThePrint.
Devkar said government vaccination centres get doses from the state and central governments and are able to use them “properly”. The fact that these doses are free also means that they have more takers.
“In private [centres], there are many doses which are up for expiry and we have already told the state government about it,” Devkar said.
The greatest proportion of the unused vaccines — 1.09 lakh doses — are concentrated at Jupiter Hospital in Pune, according to the PMC report. These doses will expire on 5 March.
In a column of the PMC report, where centres are asked when they expect to finish their doses, Jupiter Hospital’s response is “unable to finish”. The daily capacity of doses at the centre is 600.
When ThePrint asked Jupiter Hospital about its inability to use the allocated doses, its representative declined to comment and refused to provide her name.
Another vaccination centre, N.M. Wadia Hospital, has 1,330 doses remaining, for which the expiry date is 28 February. Even here, the hospital, which has a capacity of 500 doses a day, is unable to finish its allocation.
Calling Covid vaccines the “elixir of life”, Dr Rajeshree Dhariya, in-charge of the vaccination drive at Wadia Hospital, said that fewer people were coming in for jabs.
“We are wasting doses… we understand. But we don’t have the footfall for vaccination like we had during the second wave,” she said.
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‘No guidelines about what to do with unused doses’
According to Dr Dhariya, Wadia Hospital has been trying to finish unused doses, including by giving out free vaccines, since January, due to the approaching expiry date. However, there just aren’t enough takers.
One reason is free vaccine drives by the PMC and political parties, while another is the rules around who can receive vaccination, she added.
“A lot of hospitals in Pune have unused vials that are nearing expiry. They won’t be utilised unless the government opens up booster doses for 45-plus persons as well, or even reduces the gap between doses,” Dhariya said.
Shubham Wadekar, who works in the administration department of MJM Hospital, had a similar view.
“We won’t be able to finish off the stock as there are no enquiries online and no walk-ins,” he said, adding that the strict eligibility criteria for booster doses were also a factor in there being fewer takers for the jab.
“There are no guidelines yet from the PMC on what to do about the remaining doses,” Wadekar said.
While the PMC does not release reports in the public domain about vaccination data, Devkar claimed that 100 per cent of the eligible population has received the first dose and 90 per cent the second in the Pune municipal limits.
“There are more government centres and many people are coming to us since our vaccination drive is free of cost,” Devkar said. Many private hospital centres that ThePrint spoke to cited this as one of the main reasons why people were picking government centres over them.
There are 180 government centres and 150 private vaccination centres in Pune.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)
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