COVID-19 vaccine waste increases as millions of doses are set to expire

COVID-19 vaccine waste increases as millions of doses are set to expire

From the time of manufacture, COVID-19 vaccine doses from Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson can last for up to about six months.

Only 16 percent of the world’s population have completed their vaccinations against coronavirus. As for the share of those who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, it is 30.7 percent, according to Our World In Data.

Vaccination is the key to ending the global pandemic, as per experts. This is why nations across the globe are pushing forward with their respective vaccine drives and programs.

While vaccinating the majority of the public remains a crisis due to several factors, a more pressing concern has emerged these past few weeks. As it happens, the doses are expiring soon, contributing to the rise of the overall COVID-19 vaccine waste.

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses are expiring

One of the apparent crises amid the pandemic is the shortage of doses of vaccines against coronavirus. But, what seemingly appears to be more alarming is that millions of the existing jabs will expire in the next few weeks, according to Business Insider.

The report first emerged from The Washington Post. As noted, many local news reports have “painted a picture” of COVID-19 vaccine waste across the globe.

Millions of doses have been reportedly “tossed” in the United States alone. The provided figures include the 65,000 shots from Alabama, 81,000 jabs from Iowa, and 110,000 from Georgia.

In the Netherlands, hundreds of thousands of vaccines will also expire soon. But, instead of donating and exporting the doses, the Dutch government is reportedly throwing them away due to “legal and logistical reasons.”

Meanwhile, Bulgaria announced last month that it was looking to donate its expiring COVID-19 vaccines. This came after only using 1.8 million shots from the given 5 million doses.

In addition to these, more than 450,000 jabs expired earlier this month in Africa. The data came from the World Health Organization, as per reports.

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses are expiring

“Potency assay” varies by vaccine

Generally, drugs and vaccines last for years, provided that they are stored properly. However, they all can lose effectiveness – the same way food degrades in a pantry. It is called “potency assay,” and it varies depending on the vaccine, according to Medical Express.

For COVID-19 vaccine doses, they remain “stable” longer at lower temperatures. The publication then added that the jabs from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson can last for up to about six months. But, this still depends on the handling and storage.

What experts and officials are saying

Amid the growing concerns toward the increasing vaccine waste, many experts shared their thoughts about the matter. Speaking to The Post, Richard Mihigo of WHO regional office in Africa said that most of the jabs “have a very short expiration date.”

Meanwhile, Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University deemed it as a “catastrophe.” He explained that the COVID-19 vaccine doses are not enough, adding that the existing jabs are “expiring,” “spoiling with electrical shortages,” and “not being delivered to the population.”

Images courtesy of NBC Bay Area/YouTube

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