A total of 450,000 Covid vaccine doses have been destroyed in nine African countries, a World Health Organization (WHO) official has said.
The WHO Africa’s immunisation programme manager, Dr Richard Mihigo, says delayed shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccines, which is widely used in the continent, is to blame for this.
“These vaccines are not necessarily wasted. They arrived with a very short shelf life that was very difficult to deploy at the end of the day,” he said.
The countries that destroyed vaccines are Malawi, South Sudan, Liberia, Mauritania, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Comoros, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Malawi was the first country to publicly destroy vaccine doses on 19 May.
The health minister said that it needed to be done to show public trust.
“There is no country that has tried to lose vaccines for the sake of it,” Dr Mihigo said.
To avoid wastage, countries are being urged to use up vaccines immediately they are delivered.
They are also being urged to carry out sensitisation campaigns alongside mass vaccination campaigns so that communities can know the importance of getting vaccinated.
Out of a population of 1.2 billion people, only eight million Africans have been vaccinated.