Nigeria dumps more than 1 million expired AstraZeneca vaccines
Nigeria dumped more than 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines on Wednesday, roughly a week after Nigerian officials said a similar number of vaccines in the national stockpile had expired.
The country bulldozed the vaccines at a site near the capital city of Abuja, Reuters reported.
Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria, told reporters the vaccines had to be destroyed because Nigerians needed to trust the vaccination process.
“We have kept our promise to be transparent to Nigerians,” she told reporters. “The destruction today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have faith in our vaccination program.”
The news follows another Reuters report that revealed that around 1 million vaccines were shipped to Nigeria with only weeks left to administer the doses before they expired. The vaccines were delivered from European countries through Covax, an initiative that shares vaccines with the world.
Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa with a higher spread of the novel coronavirus. To date, the nation has confirmed more than 227,000 cases and recorded nearly 3,000 deaths. Nigeria reported more than 2,000 cases in the past day, according to the World Health Organization.
According to the Reuters COVID-19 tracker, Nigeria has vaccinated just over 3 percent of its population.
Other African countries have also been receiving vaccines close to their expiration date. In July, the World Health Organization announced nine African countries had discarded at least 450,000 vaccines because they were expired.
Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria “now politely declines all vaccine donations with [a] short shelf life or those that cannot be delivered in time,” according to the BBC.
After his country was reported to discard expired vaccines, Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi, told CNN in May that his country wouldn’t “accept anything that comes our way.”
“People shouldn’t be thinking that we are a dumping ground,” he said.
Wealthier countries, including the U.S., are pledging to deliver more vaccines to developing nations. But the number of doses delivered has already fallen far short of expectations.
As of October, Covax delivered just 330 million of a planned 2 billion dose shipment, Stat News reported.
Vaccines have also been dumped in the U.S. In September, a government report said more than 15 million doses were thrown out over several months.
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