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States face shortage of 0.5 ml syringes for Covid-19 vaccination

Gireesh Babu, New Delhi
Saturday, September 25, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

With the Government of India increasing its pace on vaccination against Covid-19 pandemic, shortage of syringes has popped up as an issue in various states in the last two months. While the government has started initiatives to ensure supplies, the industry says that it needs to get firm orders in advance to make the specific syringe available to meet the demand.

While Karnataka is the latest among the states to complain of a shortage of 0.5 ml syringes that are preferred to administer the Covid-19 vaccines, States like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala also in a span of two months, complained about the lack of syringes to administer the vaccine. In the case of West Bengal, reports are that it required more syringes due to negative wastage, requiring more syringes per vial of vaccine.

The shortage is mainly on the 0.5 ml auto-disabled syringes, which are most preferred to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, since the healthcare professional can draw the exact quantity of vaccine and administer it faster to the patients. In the absence of these syringes, the healthcare professional may have to use a larger capacity syringe, which leads to wastage of the vaccine.

Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) said that as against 300 million per annum, the demand has gone up to 1.8 billion per annum due to Covid vaccination.

“We have been forewarning the government that to ramp up capacity we need firm orders 9-12 months in advance - fall back option is to use 1ml/2ml/3ml AD (auto-disable) or standard disposable syringe, orders being placed by ministry of health and family welfare,” he said.

The industry has informed the government that when vaccine production will cross the auto disable syringes production in July-September quarter, the government needs to augment with standard disposable syringes. The government, based on this, has taken out a tender and placed an order with around 15 syringes manufacturers of auto-disable, reuse prevention syringes, and standard syringes.

There are around 20-22 manufacturers who can supply these syringes and the orders were placed with around 15 manufacturers, said industry sources. Currently, the production capacity in the country is over six billion syringes per annum.

The country has so far administered 84.15 crore vaccine doses under the nationwide vaccination drive, of which more than 72 lakh doses were administered in 24 hours till September 24. As on September 24, more than 81.39 crore (81,39,33,785) vaccine doses has been provided to States/Union Territories so far through Government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category. Further, nearly 86 lakh doses (85,92,550) are in the pipeline.

More than 4.23 crore (4,23,43,720) balance and unutilized Covid vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered, said the government.

 

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