Poor countries refuse 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses set to expire

The United Nations has said that developing countries have rejected about 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines because their expiration date is about to expire.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which plays a key role in the international Kovacs Mechanism as the main logistics partner for distributing vaccines in disadvantaged countries, says these countries will not accept vaccines that are too close to their expiration date.

“More than a hundred million doses have been rejected” in December, UNICEF Director of Supply Ittleva Kadele told the European Parliament Development Committee, explaining that the majority of refusals were due to the expiration date.

She explained that these countries need doses that can be stored long enough in order to plan vaccination campaigns and immunize “populations living in hard-to-reach areas and in fragile contexts”.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly condemned rich countries for buying global supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, leaving only doses due to expire in poor countries.

At the end of December, Nigeria burned more than one million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that had been sent to the country despite its expiration date.

Kadili also explained that about a third of the doses provided by Covax were donations from European countries.

In October and November, poor countries rejected 15 million doses donated by the European Union, 75% of which were AstraZeneca vaccines whose shelf life once the vaccines arrived at their destination was less than ten weeks.

More than 9.4 billion doses of vaccines have now been administered worldwide, Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

But he said at least 90 countries have not reached the 40% vaccine target set for the end of 2021, and more than 85% of Africa’s population, or about 1 billion people, have not yet received a single dose of the vaccine. .

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