COVID ‘free riders’: unvaccinated people may face discrimination
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New Delhi: There has been no wastage of COVID-19 vaccines in the government buffer stock due to expiry, Union minister Bharati Pravin Pawar informed Lok Sabha on Friday.

The central government closely monitors COVID-19 vaccine stocks in states and Union territories so as to ensure their optimal utilisation and minimal wastage, Pawar said in a written reply to a question.

States and UTs have also been advised to review programme coverage and vaccine wastage on a daily basis and redistribute the vaccine stock if required for their optimal utilisation.

To ensure utilisation of the near-expiry vaccine, they have been supported for intra- and inter-state transfer, the short-expiry vaccines are also replaced by manufacturers, the Union Minister of State for Health said.

The national regulator, Central Drugs Standard Organisation, prescribed the shelf life of Covishield vaccine as nine months and Covaxin vaccine as 12 months from the date of manufacture, Pawar stated.

She said India has administered more than two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. As on December 5, a total of 2.19 billion vaccine doses have been administered across the country.

The introduction of COVID-19 vaccines entailed many challenges such as research and development, training of more than 2.64 lakh vaccinators and 4.76 lakh other vaccination team members, optimum utilisation of available vaccine, and difficult to reach population.

It also required storage and decentralised distribution of vaccines across 29,000 cold chain points, augmenting cold chain capacity, developing IT platform for registering beneficiaries and vaccine service delivery and surveillance and management of adverse event following immunisation and special vaccination drive to reach out to last mile beneficiaries, she said.

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