#UK TO THROW AWAY 800,000 COVID-19 VACCINE DOSES —REPORT

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Up to 800,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine are likely to have expired across the UK at the end of August and could now be thrown away.

According to The Telegraph as reported by Yahoo News, doses were destined for use in the UK rollout, but after the government recommended in May that younger people should get an alternative jab because of the blood clot risk linked to the AstraZeneca jab, take-up dramatically slowed.

GPs told The Telegraph they had been raising concerns over leftover doses for some time, including one who wrote to his MP in a bid to re-purpose the jabs after exhausting other options.

Several said they had been horrified to watch vaccines expire in their fridges while millions around the world were struggling.

“I did a lot of shouting to everyone I could think of,” said one doctor from the South West of England who wanted to remain anonymous. “I was really upset because no one could get hold of it [in other countries]. It was very stressful.”

New figures published on Wednesday by the Welsh government – which has had the lowest levels of wastage in the UK and also publishes the most comprehensive data – showed there were 40,000 expired AstraZeneca doses that were “not suitable for use” in Wales as of Sept 5. They are now being disposed of.

Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 48.9 million doses of AstraZeneca have been given. If the wastage rate – 1.7 percent – is the same as in Wales, that would mean more than 800,000 doses have expired across the entire country.

Paul Mainwood, an analyst who has been tracking the vaccine rollout, said: “40,000 in Wales suggests that – if all home nations are having similar issues (anecdotally, they are doing worse) – we can estimate circa 800,000 doses reached expiry in August and are being thrown in the bin.”

The Covid-19 vaccine programme has been remarkably efficient across the UK, with far lower wastage rates than for other medicines, but the issue with leftover AstraZeneca vaccines headed for expiry has been on the cards for several months. The jabs have a six-month shelf-life in the fridge.

NHS teams across the different countries have been attempting to collect leftovers for redistribution in the UK, and did manage to re-allocate some doses to other vaccination centres. However, they did not reach all the vaccination hubs in time amid delays in collections.

Any doses which were centrally collected but not redistributed are also set to be destroyed, because they have passed their expiry date.

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