The Telangana government has taken exception to claims by the centre that it is the state with the worst vaccine wastage rate in the country. The southern state has said that it is, in fact, among those to have most effectively and efficiently utilised stocks of the precious drug.
Telangana Director of Health Dr G Srinivas has said the state government was taken aback by the claim - made last week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then elaborated by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
"It is absolutely, completely wrong. Our wastage is less than one per cent - actually 0.76 per cent - against the 17 per cent that the Government of India has claimed. As per data on portals maintained by the Government of India, based on this numbers, our wastage is, in fact the lowest in the country," Dr Srinivas said.
Last week the Prime Minister led a video conference with the chief ministers of several states to review the Covid situation in India. The wastage of vaccines was one of the points discussed; PM Modi had said Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had each reported wastage of over 10 per cent.
"States must review and reduce wastage," the Prime Minister had said.
Soon afterwards Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told the media that Telangana was the worst offender with a 17 per cent wastage rate. The national average, he said, was 6.5 per cent.
"Vaccines are invaluable commodities... public health goods... have to be optimally used," he said.
Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar has now written to the centre asking for the record to be set straight. "We also understand and appreciate that the vaccine is a precious commodity and any wastage could be used to vaccinate that many more people," Dr Srinivas said.
The centre has yet to respond on the huge difference in figures cited by itself and the state.
India is presently in the second phase of its vaccination drive, which is being billed as the largest in the world, and in which people over 60, and those above 45 but with certain illnesses, can get either one of the Covishield or Covaxin shots.
Over 4.5 crore vaccines have been administered since the drive began on January 16, with the centre hoping to vaccinate around 30 crore people in this phase alone.