Amid acute vaccine shortage in India, shocking reports have come to light from Malawi, wherein around 20,000 expired doses of AstraZeneca have been destroyed. On Wednesday, Malawi’s Health minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda went gone ahead to put vials of expired doses into an incinerator at Kamunizu Central Hospital and expressed that the burning the expired vaccines doses will build public confidence that all the vaccines being administered on the general population are good.
She said that the vaccines are being destroyed as it is a government policy that no expired health commodities should be used. They are destroying the vaccines pubicly to maintain accountability to Malawians and emphasise that no expired vaccines are being used during the vaccination process. She further emphasised that she assures all the Malawians on the behalf of the government that no one will be given an expired vaccine dose.
Interestingly, the vials that have been destroyed by the Malawian government were a part of the consignment sent by UN backed COVAX initiative followed by India. India had sent a batch of about 50,000 AstraZeneca doses to Malavi in March.
Malawi’s move to destroy the expired vaccine doses comes after WHO urged the African nations to not destroy the expired vaccine doses. In a statement dated May 17, WHO stated that any vaccine that has passed its expiry date should not be administered. Calling the exercise of discarding vaccines ‘deeply regrettable’, WHO recommended that the expired doses should be removed from the distribution chain and safely disposed.