Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh wasted 33.95% and 15.79% of their Covid-19 vaccine doses in May – the highest among the states, PTI reported on Thursday, citing government data.

On the other hand, Kerala and West Bengal recorded negative vaccine wastage at -6.3% and -5.4%, respectively. Kerala managed to save 1.1 lakh vaccine doses and West Bengal 1.6 lakh shots.

Madhya Pradesh wasted 7.35% of its vaccine doses, Punjab 7.08%, Delhi 3.95%, Rajasthan 3.91%, Uttar Pradesh 3.78%, Gujarat 3.63% and Maharashtra 3.59%, PTI reported.

The Centre has repeatedly instructed the states to keep their vaccine wastage below 1%.

Government data showed that the states had a closing balance of 212.7 lakh vaccine doses in May, compared to just 80.8 lakh in April. The lower rate of vaccination in May has been attributed to the new procurement system and people staying inside due to the fear of infection, The Times of India reported.

The data also showed how the states performed in terms of first dose coverage of those above 45. Tripura’s coverage was 92% till June 7, followed by Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh at 65%, Gujarat 53%, Kerala 51% and Delhi 49%, according to PTI.

Among the lower-performing states in this regard were Tamil Nadu at 19%, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh at 24% and Bihar at 25%.

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The Centre had on Tuesday released revised guidelines for the coronavirus vaccination drive, saying allocation of doses to states and Union Territories will depend on their population, infection burden and the pace of inoculation. It warned the states that vaccine wastage will have a negative impact on allocation.

The guidelines came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre would provide vaccines free of charge to beneficiaries in the 18 to 44 age group from June 21. The government will buy 75% of the vaccine produced by companies, including 25% assigned to states. Private hospitals will, however, continue to buy the remaining 25% of the vaccine stock. This means some beneficiaries will have to pay for their vaccines if they choose to get inoculated at non-government medical facilities.

The Modi government took charge of procuring vaccines and providing them to states after facing severe criticism from health experts and the Supreme Court of India.

India’s coronavirus vaccination drive has struggled to keep pace with the demand since the fourth phase of inoculation began on May 1 amid a devastating second wave of infections. Under the earlier policy, the Centre took responsibility for only sourcing 50% of the doses for what has been categorised as the vulnerable population – those above 45 years, healthcare and frontline workers. This essentially meant that vaccinations for all those below 45 years had be paid for by the states or by the citizens themselves.