Over 1 million doses of expired Oxford-Astrazeneca coronavirus vaccines, donated to Nigeria under the UN-facilitated COVAX facility, were on Wednesday destroyed in Abuja by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, announced the destruction at the Idu dumpsite in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
In the words of Shuaib; “These vaccines did not expire before we decided to withdraw them and today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have further faith in our vaccination programme.
“We had the option if we were to take the advice of some experts to try and use these vaccines even beyond the label expiry date, but working together with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), we took that decision to destroy these vaccines at the point that they got expired.”
AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored safely in refrigerated conditions for up to six months. But some of these vaccines were near their expiration dates when they were received by the government of Nigeria.
Nigeria is not the first African country to publicly destroy its expired vaccines. Many thousands of vaccines doses have been destroyed in other countries because they exceeded their expiry dates. Others are being returned by countries saying they will be unable to use them before they expire.
Malawi was the first country to destroy over 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, followed by South Sudan which destroyed almost 60,000 doses.
Liberia, Mauritania, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also destroyed some expired COVID-19 vaccines.