Malawi Destroys Doses of Expired Vaccine

20 MAY, 2021 - 00:05 

LILONGWE. – Malawi yesterday destroyed nearly 17 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that had expired in mid-April, with the health minister blaming “propaganda” for many Malawians’ reluctance to receive the jab.”

The batch which had expired (has) been withdrawn from our system and has been destroyed,” Health Minister Kumbize Kandodo said at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital Lilongwe.

It is the first African country to publicly do this .The World Health Organization initially urged countries not to destroy expired doses, but has now changed its advice.

The country has so far received three batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine – 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 “two weeks of shelf life, and unfortunately, in those two weeks, we were not able to absorb everything, mostly due to the propaganda against the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Austria this week became the third European country to drop AstraZeneca, after Norway and Denmark ditched the vaccine over rare cases of severe blood clots in people receiving the jab.

Kandodo said: “We tried to assure Malawians and give them the faith” but wound up with 16 910 unusable doses of AstraZeneca, incinerated in a brief ceremony at the hospital.

Since Malawi launched its vaccination drive in March, it has inoculated 300 000 people of its target to reach 11 million, or 60 percent of the population, by the end of the year. 

The country’s principal health secretary, Charles Mwansambo, said that it was unfortunate they had to destroy the vials but the benefits outweighed the risks.”When news spread that we had out-of-date vaccines, we noticed that people were not coming to our clinics to get immunised,”  he said. 


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