BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — Poor countries refused to take around 100 million donated Covid-19 vaccine doses in December alone, chiefly due to their short shelf life, the United Nations (UN) said Thursday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has slammed the deadly “moral shame” of high-income countries hogging vaccine supplies then offloading near-expiry doses to jab-starved poorer nations.
Stark images last month of Nigeria disposing of more than a million AstraZeneca doses that had gone off highlighted the issue.
UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, uses its vaccine logistics expertise to handle delivery flights for Covax, the global scheme set up to ensure a flow of doses to poorer nations.
In December, “we had almost more than 100 million doses that have been refused because of countries’ capacities,” UNICEF’s supply division director Etleva Kadilli told a European Parliament committee.
“The majority of refusals are due to product shelf life.”
In October-November, 15 million European Union-donated doses were rejected — 75 percent of them AstraZeneca shots with a shelf life of less than 10 weeks upon arrival.
On 29 December, the WHO announced that 92 of its 194 member states had missed its target of vaccinating 40 percent of their population by the end of 2021.
“This is due to a combination of limited supply going to low-income countries for most of the year and then subsequent vaccines arriving close to expiry and without key parts like the syringes,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.