Canada must throw away nearly 14 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine

Health Canada said it had to throw away about 13.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine because a recipient could not be found before the expiry date.

Canada in 2020 signed a contract with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. The country then launched a large-scale vaccination campaign, with 2.3 million people receiving at least one dose, mainly from March 2021 to June 2021.

However, after concerns about a rare blood clotting reaction following AstraZeneca’s vaccination, Canada switched to using mRNA technology vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

In July 2021, Canada pledged to donate the remaining 17.7 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine. But on July 5, Health Canada said it still had 13.6 million doses that had expired and would have to be thrown away.

Vials of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine are used by a doctor in Vienna, Austria, April 30, 2021.  Photo: Reuters.

Vials of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine are used by a doctor in Vienna, Austria, April 30, 2021. Image: Reuters.

Canada donated a total of 8.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, including 4.8 million doses from the supplier and 4.1 million doses from the Covax mechanism.

“Due to limited vaccine demand, receiving countries have difficulty in allocating and using them, so they have rejected these vaccines,” Health Canada said in a statement.

About 85% of Canadians are considered fully vaccinated. This rate in the world is 61%, while in the poorest countries it is only 16%.

Many European countries are experiencing new Covid-19 outbreaks. Experts warn that the number of Covid-19 cases may increase sharply in the summer because the restrictive measures have been almost completely lifted, while the rate of booster injections is low. New infections in Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark are mainly caused by two sublines BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron variant.

“The pandemic is accelerating again,” said Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist at Raymond-PoincarĂ© hospital, on the outskirts of Paris, France. “It is important that we maintain stable immunity through booster shots.”

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