The African country, Malawi, announced that it will destroy the 19,610 Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, which has expired, to gain the trust of the public. The World Health Organization (WHO) initially urged countries not to destroy expired doses, but later changed its recommendation. Authorities hope this move will convince the public that the vaccine is safe in the country with high vaccine rejection.
Located in the southeast of the African continent, Malawi received 102,000 doses of AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine from the African Union on March 26, and used almost 80 percent of them. However, the remaining vaccines were removed from the cold chain since the expiry date on the labels was 13 April.
Malawi’s chief health officer, Dr. Charles Mwansambo said it was unfortunate for them to destroy the vaccine doses, but the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks.
“When the news spread that we had expired vaccines, we realized that people were not coming to our clinics to get vaccinated. If we don’t burn them, they’ll think we are using expired vaccines in our facilities and if they don’t get vaccinated, Covid-19 will hit them hard,” Mwansambo said.
Dr. Mwansambo also reported that it was difficult to convince adults in the country to get vaccinated. On the streets of the capital Lilongwe, some people also expressed concern about the safety of the vaccine. However, the link between the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine and rare blood clots has not yet been proven, and health experts say the risk of Covid-19 is much higher. They advise people to get vaccinated if they can.
Malawi, on the other hand, is not the only country in Africa where vaccines have expired. WHO initially asked affected countries to retain vaccines until they determined whether they could still be used. However, the organization now says that vaccines with a predetermined expiry date by the manufacturer must be destroyed.
In the statement made by the institution on May 17, it was stated that “Although the disposal of vaccines is extremely upsetting in the context of any vaccination program, WHO recommends that these expired doses be removed from the distribution chain and safely destroyed.”
On the other hand, the country with a population of 18 million has recorded 34 thousand 232 confirmed corona virus cases and 153 deaths so far. 335 thousand doses of vaccine were administered in Malawi, where 1.8 doses of vaccine per 100 people were available.