Anger as 600,000 AstraZeneca doses go to waste: 'Absolute scandal'

·4-min read

Thousands of Covid-19 vaccines have gone to waste in the UK, prompting anger among politicians and advocates alike.

There have been about 600,000 AstraZeneca vaccines thrown out in the UK as they were about to expire, The Independent recently reported.

AstraZeneca vaccines were not given out to young people in the UK due to its link to rare blood clotting.

The UK Government did not donate the excess doses to poorer countries that needed them as they had promised to do, according to The Independent.

Instead, 604,400 vaccines doses from around the UK were destroyed in August, a Freedom of Information request found.

A person holds up an AstraZeneca vaccine vial.
Thousands of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses have gone to waste in the UK. Source: SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Oxfam told The Independent the number of doses going to waste was "an absolute scandal", with Anna Marriott, a health policy manager at the charity, saying millions of doses will be wasted by G7 countries.

“Our estimates suggest at least 100 million vaccine doses could go unused and expire in G7 countries by the end of this year,” she said.

According to Nation CYMRU, the Welsh Government confirmed in September 40,000 AstraZeneca doses in Wales had been thrown out.

In wake of The Independent's report, a party’s spokesperson for International Affairs said there would be calls for Wales to do more to help poorer countries.

“A global pandemic requires a global response,” Heledd Fychan said. 

“Wales has its part to play in bringing an end to the pandemic and protecting communities all around the world. What’s more, our global responsibility is written into law."

Pictured is UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Around 600,000 Covid vaccines were thrown out in August. Source: EPA

Vaccines going to waste in Australia 

Vaccine doses going to waste isn't just happening in the UK, it's also happening in Australia.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) reported 3.5 per cent of vaccines in Australia were being thrown out.

That translates to more than 1.33 million doses being thrown out since the start of the vaccine rollout, RACGP's newsGP reported.

Dr Joe Garra told newsGP the clinic he worked at in Melbourne was now giving out 100 doses of Covid vaccine every week, down from roughly 700 to 800 doses.

He suspects the actual figure of Covid vaccine doses going to waste is much higher than what the Department of Health says it is.

"About two weeks ago, we started realising people were not showing up," Dr Garra told newsGP. 

"For example, we might have booked 18 people for Pfizer [using] three vials. And then two don’t show up. We’ve got no one to ring to come in their place. So that’s two doses gone. I think our wastage is getting closer to 10% on a daily basis."

Vials of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccine doses are also going to waste in Australia. Source: AP Photo

Back in October, Dr Natasha Yates, a Gold Coast GP and Assistant Professor of General Practice at Bond University said vaccines were being thrown out in the state.

Speaking to the ABC, Dr Yates said after the state's Chief Health Officer advised people to not get AstraZeneca, there was a lot of confusion and apathy as it was the only vaccine available to most at the time.

While AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are now available across the Queensland at GPs, pharmacies and dedicated vaccine hubs, Dr Yates said people were "just not turning up" to get the shot.

Dr Yates admitted it is "frustrating" vaccines are going to waste, saying Australians perhaps don't value them as much as we should.

She said health care workers in the developing world don't have access to the vaccines, which are their "first and only defence", as the intensive cares in some places overseas are not as good as Australia's.

"They are crying out for help," Dr Yates said, speaking of her colleagues overseas.

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