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Rajasthan: Vaccine doses buried, burnt and thrown away

Recently, a team of journalists from Dainik Bhaskar went around the State of Rajasthan to take stock of the vaccination drive in the State and the wastage of vaccine doses. Through this investigation came out a startling fact, across different vaccination centres in Rajasthan, not only were vaccine doses thrown into dustbins, they were burnt and even buried.

Through the investigation of a Dainik Bhaskar team, it came to light that Rajasthan has been witnessing large-scale wastage of vaccine doses. Filled vaccine vials were found buried, burnt and thrown away into dustbins across vaccination centres. To dig out the facts, GoaChronicle got in touch with Dainik Bhaskar Jaipur’s Anand Chaudhary, who along with his photojournalists, travelled across the State of Rajasthan and exposed this bitter truth.

Talking about his investigation, Anand said, “I travelled all across Rajasthan. The cities I carried out my investigation in were Jaipur, Ajmer, Bundi, Karauli, Dholpur, Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur, Dosa, and Tonk. We had not begun our investigation thinking about Rajasthan or its government being involved in any kind of vaccine dosage wastage. When it was reported that large-scale vaccine wastage was happening in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, wherein 35% and 31% of vaccine doses were getting wasted respectively. That is when we thought that the reality of Rajasthan should also be studied.”

“And hence, we went across different vaccination centres and asked the concerned individuals about the vials which were by then emptied during the vaccination drive. Mostly, the empty vials were dumped into bins and boxes. We then took those vials out. We then realized that many of the vials were filled with dosages and only one dose had been administered out of most of them. Vials that could have been used to vaccinate eleven individuals were used to administer a single dose and were then thrown into bins. Initially, we had planned that we would click pictures of all those filled vials with wasted vaccine doses inside”, the Dainik Bhaskar journalist continued.

Anand went on, “But soon we realized that if we publish the photos we clicked, the State Government might not own up to the disaster caused. It could have easily asked for ‘proofs’ to substantiate our claims. And they could easily get the vials removed from the centres. Therefore, what we did was carry the filled vials back with us. We had visited around 35 centres all across Rajasthan and we carried 500 such filled vials back with us. We have them in our office now. There are around 130 vials amongst the 500 which contain doses from 50 to 90% of their capacity.”

“We had even enquired about the wastage at some of the centres. As obvious, all they had to say was nobody went to the centres for getting the jab, only one dose could be administered out of one vial and what could they do about it. Our team then asked them about the people from the 18+ age category who were very much present to get inoculated, even if people from the 45+ category could not have arrived. That was indeed plausible. But definitely, the 18+ category was not lacking in numbers”, he added.

Anand then revealed, “All through our investigation, on the one hand, we found out this much of wastage across centres. On the other hand, we even saw five such centres where not a single drop vaccine dose was wasted. We found out that where vials carried 10 doses in all, the same was used to administer 11 doses with utmost precision. A centre at Hindoli, the senior secondary school of the Samudayik Swastya Kendra was one such centre. Another was the centre at Banspada at Bundi city where three young nurses had brought 150 empty vials to us and we could not take a single drop of dose out of them. Looking at that, our team asked them as to how did they administer vaccines with such perfection and they replied that first, they called 10 people and that is when they finally opened one vial. They were to vaccinate 270 people and at the end, they had managed to be left with two unopened vials.”

The Dainik Bhaskar journalist told us, “At a centre at Sawai Madhopur, doses for 2150 people were available that day and the medical staff had managed to vaccinate 2360 people. After we broke the story of 500 vaccine doses that were wasted after our first day of investigation, the State Government tried to come clean saying no doses were thrown into the garbage. We, as a reply had then published photos of vials found inside the garbage bags. Yet again, the Government tried to cover up and said that what was seen in the photos were not garbage bags but plastic bags which are used at centres and hospitals to throw away medical waste. The next day, the photo we published was of filled vials thrown inside a well that was 10 ft deep. Addressing the government, we had said that not only did they throw the vials, they burnt them and even buried them.”

“At a centre, the doctor had told us that the staff there had buried the vials in the ground and we were taken to the specific site. If the government, on its own, would have assured us they would order an audit into the matter, this would not have attracted so much of brouhaha across the nation. Our aim was not to ‘expose’ the government or go against it. As per the State Government’s claims, there is wastage of 2% of doses, which, practically, is negligible. And as per the Central Government’s claims of April, there was a wastage of 7% of doses in Rajasthan. As per the Centre’s reports dated 26 May, there is a wastage of 3% doses in the State. This again is not a big deal because if the Government intends, it can easily reduce this minimal number. But, the Government did not even hint at such an intention. No audit or probe was ordered into the matter. And hence, our aim was to throw light on the reality as unbiased journalists,” Anand explained.

After blatant vaccine wastage and the obscure gravity of the matter at Rajasthan, Union Minister Anurag Thakur had recently accused the Punjab and Rajasthan Governments of corruption and black-marketing of vaccines. He openly claimed that Chief Ministers of both the States, who are ‘favourites’ of the Gandhi family was behind this corruption. Thakur said, “The Centre buys vaccines from manufacturers and sells them to the States at 400 per dose, but the Punjab government is selling those vaccines to private hospitals at 1, 060; for which those hospitals are collecting 1, 560 from the public. The vaccine doses which are to be given free are now translating into 3, 120. This is Congress’ favourite ‘one to ka four’ policy.”

He continued, “The Rajasthan Government is two steps ahead of the Punjab Government. Now, thousands of vaccine doses are found in garbage dumps. Doing this, the Congress has actually thrown the public’s trust into the garbage.”

(Image Source: @ANI on Twitter)

Feeling the heat, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu soon announced that the Government had withdrawn the policy of selling the vaccines to private hospitals. He said that a total of 42, 000 vaccines were given to private hospitals which were taken back from them; and that the Chief Minister had taken immediate cognizance of the matter. Sidhu mentioned that anyone who had to pay the extra price for the vaccine would get reimbursements.





Sonakshi Datta

Journalist, Goa Chronicle

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DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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