Up to one million COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have expired in Nigeria in November, a report by Reuters says.
According to the report, two sources with direct knowledge of vaccine delivery and use, said the expired doses were made by AstraZeneca and supplied via COVAX from Europe.
A third source with knowledge of the delivery was said to have also mentioned that some of the doses arrived within four-to-six weeks of expiry and could not be used in time, despite efforts by health authorities.
“A count of the expired doses is still underway and an official number is yet to be finalised, the sources were quoted as saying, with one adding that “Nigeria is doing everything it can. But it’s struggling with short shelf life vaccines. Now (supply is) unpredictable and they’re sending too much”.
A spokesperson for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) told Reuters that the number of vaccines received and used is still being tallied and that it would share its findings in the coming days.
In a statement responding to Reuter’s questions, WHO said doses had expired, but declined to give a figure. It said 800,000 additional doses that had been at risk of expiry in October were all used in time.
“Vaccine wastage is to be expected in any immunization programme, and in the context of COVID-19 deployment is a global phenomenon,” WHO said, adding that vaccines delivered with “very short” shelf life were a problem.
On August 16, Nigeria took delivery of 699,760 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the UK — the second delivery of the vaccine brand after the first batch was exhausted.
The UK donated 592,880 additional doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria on August 27.
According to the NPHCDA, 7,244,620 of eligible persons, representing just 6.5 percent have taken the first dose of the vaccine, while 3,811,693 persons representing only 3.4 percent, have been fully vaccinated.
In its bid to get more people vaccinated, the federal government introduced mass COVID-19 vaccination of eligible Nigerians in offices, churches, and universities.