Poor countries refused last month to receive some 100 million doses of the Covid vaccine. In question: their expiry date was close, said the United Nations on Thursday. The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly accused rich countries of grabbing vaccines and giving poor countries only vaccines with a short shelf life. A “moral shame”, for the WHO.
At the end of December, Nigeria for example thus incinerated more than one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine given a few months ago by developed countries but whose expiry date was approaching and which had expired.
Better plan vaccination campaigns
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), which plays a major role in the international Covax mechanism as the main logistics partner for the distribution of vaccines in disadvantaged countries, the latter now refuse to receive doses whose expiration date is too close. In December, “more than one hundred million doses were refused,” said the director of the Supply Division of Unicef, Etleva Kadilli, before the European Parliament’s Development Committee.
She explained that these countries needed doses that could be stored long enough in order to be able to better plan vaccination campaigns and to be able to immunize “populations living in hard-to-reach areas and in fragile contexts”.
A duration of less than 10 weeks
The official also explained that about a third of the doses provided by Covax were donations from European countries. In October and November, 15 million doses given by the European Union were refused by poor countries, 75% of which were AstraZeneca vaccines whose expiration period – once the vaccines reached their destination – was less than ten weeks. . Etleva Kadilli explained that many countries are calling for vaccine deliveries to be “split” and postponed to the next quarter.
In total, more than 9.4 billion doses of vaccines have now been administered worldwide, WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday at a meeting of the Emergency Committee on Covid. But 90 countries still have not reached the 40% vaccine target that had been set for the end of 2021, he said, and “more than 85% of the African population, or about one billion people, has not yet received a single dose of vaccine ”.