The average COVID-19 vaccine wastage in India is at 6.5 per cent, with Telangana and Andhra Pradesh being on the top with 17.6 and 11.6 per cent wastage respectively, the Centre said on Wednesday as it called for optimal utilisation of the doses.
A total of 3,64,67,744 vaccine doses have been administered till now in the country, which includes 1,48,60,930 beneficiaries aged 45-60 years with specific comorbidities and senior citizens who have been given the first dose.
At a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that Monday, 8.34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered worldwide, of which India alone administered 36 per cent of the doses.
Vaccine waste highest in these States
Bhushan said COVID-19 vaccine wastage in five states — Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir — is higher than the national average of 6.5 per cent.
'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 an average 13,12,215 vaccine doses are being administered daily with Rajasthan providing the most jabs on an average, Bhushan said.
About the increase in daily COVID-19 cases, Bhushan said from March 1-15, 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 a 100-150 per cent rise in cases.
Most of these districts are in west and north India.
'Alarming rate of increase in caseload'
Elaborating on the rise in cases in states, he said, 'If we look at Maharashtra, 60 per cent of all active cases and 45 per cent of new deaths are concentrated there.' 'On March 1, 7,741 new cases were being reported on an average. By March 15, it stood at 13,527. The positivity rate, which was 11 per cent on March 1 rose to 16 per cent by March 15,' he said.
Noting that the high positivity rate is a matter of concern, Bhushan said the number of tests is not increasing in tandem with the COVID-19 positivity rate. 'So, our advice to the states, especially Maharashtra, is that there is a need to increase the testing rate, especially the RT-PCR ones,' he said.
In Punjab, on March 1 an average of 531 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to an average of 1,338. The positivity rate has doubled and the share of RT-PCR total tests conducted was 89 per cent, he said.
'We would want a distinct increasing trend of tests in which RT-PCR share is substantially higher,' Bhushan said.
In Chattisgarh, 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 in tests conducted is 34 per cent.
In Gujarat on March 1, an average of 398 new cases was being reported. By March 15, the number increased to 689. The positivity rate increased from 2.4 per cent to 4 per cent and RT-PCR's share in COVID-19 tests was 50 per cent.
Karnataka had 443 cases on average on March 1. In a fortnight, the number increased to an average of 751. The positivity rate increased from 0.8 per cent to 1.3 per cent and RT-PCRs' share in COVID-19 tests is 93 per cent.
In Madhya Pradesh, an average of 334 new cases were being reported on March 1. By March 15, the number increased to 564. The positivity rate has increased from 3.1 per cent to 7.4 per cent and RT-PCR share in tests was 65 per cent.
As for Haryana, an average of 151 new cases were being reported on March 1. By the middle of the months, the number increased to 374. The positivity rate has increased from 1.2 per cent to 3.3 per cent and RT-PCR's share in tests was 93 per cent.
In Delhi, on March 1 an average of 198 new cases were being reported. By March 15, the number increased to 371. The positivity rate has increased from 0.4 per cent to 0.6 per cent and RT-PCR's share in tests is 64 per cent.
The overall tests can be increased in Delhi, he said.
Bhushan also added that the lowest point of new COVID-19 cases was February 9.
'Today, there is a nearly 43 per cent week-on-week increase in new COVID-19 cases and a nearly 37 per cent week-on-week increase in new deaths,' Bhushan said.
To handle the increasing cases, the Centre has advised the badly affected states 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.
The states have asked to ensure clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths and efficient implementation of 'test, track and treat' strategy, Bhushan said.
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 been asked to identifying clusters, focusing on surveillance and stringent implementation of containment zone approach and undertaking priority vaccination of identified groups in districts reporting higher cases,' he said.
(With inputs from PTI)