Several measures were in place to ensure against vaccine expiry, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said

Media reports alleging that 50 lakh unused Covishield vaccine doses may go waste by February-end have been dismissed as “vague” by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“Such reports are vague, without any specific information on the state wise number of doses that are claimed to be near expiry date,” the ministry said on Thursday.

According to the ministry, the Central Government has in a proactive manner advised all State Governments to review this issue right from the start of COVID-19 vaccination drive to ensure that wastage of vaccine doses is reduced to the minimum and that doses do not expire by stressing the principle of “First Expiry First Out” (FEFO) at all 60 consignee points.

In the month of November 2021, it was communicated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that States should regularly review the status of COVID vaccines expected to expire in the coming months, available with Private Hospitals within the States, the ministry pointed out.

“States were also advised that no vaccine should be allowed to get expired, both in the Govt. and Private facilities. It was advised that the States may have a quick Video-Conference at the level of Addl. Chief Secretary (Health)/ Principal Secretary (Health) with the private hospitals to look into the utilization of vaccine doses. States were also advised that they could try interventions like administration of vaccine under CSR/ vaccination at subsidized rates in respect of Private Hospitals,” the ministry said.

Furthermore, the ministry said, on the request of specific States, it had clarified that it had no objection to proposed arrangement of transfer of vaccine, on an exceptional basis, from private sector Health Facilities to State Government Health Facilities to avoid vaccine expiry and to ensure that no vaccine dose goes to waste. “The provision of entry of these exchanged vaccines is available on the Co-WIN digital platform,” the ministry pointed out.

Additionally, discussions have also been held with the states like West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat and Delhi to ensure that COVID vaccines available to the Private COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) are used, the ministry added.