Malawi Destroys Nearly 17,000 Expired AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccines Doses
Malawi health authorities on Wednesday destroyed nearly 17,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that had expired in mid-April to boost public confidence in the country’s vaccine campaign, reported Africa News.
Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda started destructing the vaccines by putting some of the vials of the expired doses into an incinerator at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital, Lilongwe.
“We are destroying (these vaccines) because as government policy no expired health commodities are to be used,” she said. “Historically under the expanded immunization program of Malawi no expired vaccine has ever been used.”
The Malawi government took the decision to destroy the vaccines despite assurances by the World Health Organisation and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that the vaccines were safe until mid-July.
Malawi has received three batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine so far- 300,000 doses under the Covax vaccine sharing facility, 50,000 from India, and 102,000 from the African Union.
Kandodo said the African Union batch had just two weeks of shelf life, and unfortunately, in those two weeks, the vaccines could not be used, mostly due to the propaganda against the AstraZeneca vaccine. The health authorities managed to deploy about 80 percent of them by that time.
So far 300,000 people have been inoculated since the launch of the vaccination drive in March. The government’s target is to vaccinate 11 million, or 60 percent of the population, by the end of the year.
“We don’t want to lose any vaccine because we have a lot of people to vaccinate but… we have to remove all expired drugs from the system,” the Malawi health minister said.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Charles Mwansambo ensured that Malawi will still have adequate stocks of COVID-19 vaccines in public and private health facilities and that the vaccination campaign will continue without any hindrance.
The country has 34,216 confirmed cases, including 1,153 deaths, according to the Africa CDC.