The Government of Malawi has destroyed 19,610 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that expired 18 days after arriving, despite assurances from the African Union (AU) and World Health Organisation (WHO) that the vaccines are safe until mid-July.
A batch of 102,000 vaccines arrived on March 26, under an initiative by the AU and WHO, and they expired on April 13, leaving less than three weeks for them to be used. Malawi managed to deploy about 80 percent of them by that time.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), part of the AU, at a news conference late last month noted that the shots could be used until July 13, based on a further analysis conducted by manufacturers – the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The World Health Organization also urged African countries not to waste vaccines donated to them.
However, the Malawian government said it would not give expired vaccines to its citizens.
Health Minister Khumbize Chaponda, disclosed further at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the administrative capital Lilongwe.
The shots, wrapped in red plastic bags, were thrown into an incinerator, causing a cloud of dark smoke to billow from its chimney.
She promised that “… on behalf of the government I assure all Malawians that no one will be given an expired COVID vaccine.”
Malawi’s Health Ministry says the country had administered 335,232 vaccine doses as of May 18, and recorded 34,231 COVID infections and 1,153 deaths.