Poorer nations last month rejected more than 100m doses of Covid-19 vaccines distributed by the global programme COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiry date, a UNICEF official has said.
Etleva Kadilli, director of the agency’s supply division told lawmakers at the European Parliament that the main reason for rejection was the delivery of doses with a short shelf-life, Reuters reports.
More than a 100 million have been rejected just in December alone.”
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’s data on supplies and use of delivered vaccines show that 681m 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. The organisation added:
We MUST invest in last-mile delivery to get vaccines from tarmacs to arms. Countries need delivery support – including for health workers, cold chains, and education programs to combat vaccine hesitancy – if they want to use all the vaccines they receive.”
A spokesperson for Gavi, a vaccine alliance which 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.
COVAX, which is co-led by the World Health Organization, has so far delivered 987m Covid-19 vaccines to 144 countries, according to data from Gavi.
Wealthy countries donating vaccines with a relatively short shelf life has been a “major problem” for COVAX, a WHO senior official said last month.