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Covid-19: Poor countries refuse 100 million doses of vaccine near the expiration date

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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The United Nations said, on Thursday, that poor countries last month refused to receive about 100 million doses of the Covid vaccine because its expiration date is approaching.

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The World Health Organization has repeatedly accused rich countries of getting vaccinated and of giving poor countries only short-lived vaccines. A “moral stigma” for the World Health Organization.

At the end of December, Nigeria burned more than a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that it had given a few months ago to developed countries, but its expiration date is approaching and it has expired.

According to 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, the latter is now refusing to receive doses whose expiration date is too close.

“More than a hundred million doses have been rejected,” UNICEF Director of Supply Division Itliva Kadele told the European Parliament’s Development Committee in December.

“The majority of rejections were for the expiration date,” she said.

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

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

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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 reached their destination – was less than ten weeks.

Ms Cadelli explained that many countries are calling for vaccine delivery to be “split” and postponed to the next quarter.

The International Mechanism for Equitable Access to the Covax Vaccine – co-led by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the World Health Organization and Cepi (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), is preparing to distribute its billionth dose in the coming days.

More than 9.4 billion doses of vaccines have now been administered worldwide, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday at a meeting of the Coronavirus Emergency Committee.

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

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