Close to Expiry; Poorer Nations Reject Over 100mn Covid-19 Vaccines

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  • Boxes containing the Moderna type of Covid-19 vaccines upon its arrival at the Cargo Terminal of Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, Sunday, August 1, 2021. A total of 3.5 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Indonesia under the

    Boxes containing the Moderna type of Covid-19 vaccines upon its arrival at the Cargo Terminal of Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, Sunday, August 1, 2021. A total of 3.5 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Indonesia under the "Covax dose sharing" scheme from United States of America. ANTARA/Fauzan

    TEMPO.COBrussels - Poorer nations last month rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the global program COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiry date, a UNICEF official said on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.

    The big figure shows the difficulties of vaccinating the world despite growing supplies of shots, with COVAX getting closer to delivering 1 billion doses to a total of nearly 150 countries.

    "More than a 100 million have been rejected just in December alone," Etleva Kadilli, director of Supply Division at U.N. agency UNICEF told lawmakers at the European Parliament.

    The main reason for rejection was the delivery of doses with a short shelf-life, she said.

    Poorer nations have also been forced to delay supplies because they have insufficient storage facilities, Kadilli said, including a lack of fridges for vaccines.

    Many countries also face high levels of vaccine hesitancy and have overburdened healthcare systems.

    UNICEF did not immediately reply to a query about how many doses have been rejected so far in total.

    Many others are stored waiting to be used in poorer nations.

    UNICEF's data on supplies and use of delivered vaccines show that 681 million shipped doses are currently stored in about 90 poorer nations, according to CARE, a charity, which extracted the figures from a public database.

    More than 30 poorer nations, including big states such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, have used fewer than half of the doses they received, CARE said.

    A spokesperson for Gavi, a vaccine alliance that co-manages COVAX, said that the high storage level was due to a surge in deliveries in the last quarter, especially in December.

    Gavi added that most vaccines recently shipped by COVAX had a long shelf life, and therefore were unlikely to go wasted.