Poorer nations reject over 100 million COVID shots as many close to expiry

A police officer stands next to boxes of expired AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines at the Gosa dump site in Abuja, Nigeria December 22, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

BRUSSELS, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Poorer nations last month rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the global programme COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiry date, a UNICEF official said on Thursday.

The big figure shows the difficulties of vaccinating the world despite growing supplies of shots, with COVAX getting closer to delivering 1 billion doses to a total of nearly 150 countries.

“More than a 100 million have been rejected just in December alone,” Etleva Kadilli, director of Supply Division at U.N. agency UNICEF told lawmakers at the European Parliament.

The main reason for rejection was the delivery of doses with a short shelf-life, she said.

Poorer nations have also been forced to delay supplies because they have insufficient storage facilities, Kadilli said, including a lack of fridges for vaccines.

Many countries also face high levels of vaccine hesitancy and have overburdened healthcare systems.

UNICEF did not immediately reply to a query about how many doses have been rejected so far in total.

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