Lilongwe, Malawi: Malawi destroyed over 17,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that had expired in mid-April on Wednesday, citing “propaganda” for many Malawians’ aversion to receiving the vaccination.
“The batch which had expired (has) been withdrawn from our system and has been destroyed,” Health Minister Kumbize Kandodo said at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital Lilongwe.
The report comes as many South Asian and African nations struggle to vaccinate people on a greater scale owing to the shortage.
Supply of the AstraZeneca does, primarily being manufactured in India at the Serum Institute, is in strain following a massive second wave outbreak that stunned India.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been delivered to the country in three batches: 300,000 doses under the Covax vaccine sharing program, 50,000 doses from India, and 102,000 doses from the African Union.
“Unfortunately, in those two weeks, we were not able to absorb everything,” Kandodo said of the African Union batch, “mainly due to the propaganda against the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
Austria became the third European country to dump AstraZeneca this week, after Norway and Denmark in doing so due to rare incidents of serious blood clots in persons who received the vaccination.
Kandodo said Wednesday: “We tried to assure Malawians and give them the faith” but wound up with 16,910 unusable doses of AstraZeneca, incinerated in a brief ceremony at the hospital.
Since March, Malawi has vaccinated 300,000 individuals, with the goal of reaching 11 million people, or 60 percent of the population, by the end of the year.
“We don’t want to lose any vaccine because we have a lot of people to vaccinate but… we have to remove all expired drugs from the system,” Kandodo said.