Almost five months after Corbevax vaccines were rolled out for children, as many as 51,042 doses have been wasted in Mumbai due to low turnout. The vaccination centres are not getting enough children to use the full 10ml vial of Corbevax.
An analysis of the data provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows that since the introduction of Corbevax on March 16, more than 10,000 doses were wasted on an average every month in the city.
This in sharp contrast to the other two available vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin. In Mumbai since the beginning of the mass immunization programme in March 2021, a total of 48,040 doses have been wasted, which comes down to a comparitively smaller wastage of 2,825 doses per month. Due to the higher demand for Covishield, the civic body did not record any wastage. Many vaccination centres have been able to inoculate eleven beneficiaries from a 5 ml vial of Covishield, which is meant for ten people.
A 10 ml vial of Corbevax is meant for 20 children. Once opened, the vial has to be used within four hours. But due to the low turnout, the vaccination centres are unable to use the full vials, which is causing wastage of doses.
“If only one or two people turn up for vaccination at a centre, it may waste the remaining doses in a vial. So, to save doses, we wait for enough beneficiaries, but as the demand for vaccination has dropped with the flattening of the pandemic curve, not many show up for the jab. As we can’t return them back without inoculating, so we have to open the vials, which causes wastage,” said a public health officer. “Sometimes, parents leave the centres if we make them wait more than 30 minutes to get more beneficiaries,” said the officer.
Vaccine wastage can occur due to lack of proper storage and exposure to heat can spoil a vaccine. Vaccine wastage can also occur when transportation and storage temperature is improper.
“The hesitancy parents are showing about the vaccine for children is likely due to their perception that few children have tested Covid-19 positive. Also, there have been relatively fewer severe cases as most patients had moderate symptoms…children should be given vaccines as and when they are available as these vaccines are investigated by experts before being recommended to the public,” said Dr Asmita Mahajan, consultant npeonatologist and paediatrician, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim.
As on August 8, the BMC had 52,000 doses of Corbevax in stock.
The Union health ministry recently declared that adults who have taken Covishield or Covaxin as their primary vaccine will be able to take Corbevax as their boosters from August 12 onwards. “We are hoping demand for Corbevax will increase, which will help save wastage and near-expiry vials,” said a ward health officer.