Nigeria destroys 1 million expired COVID-19 vaccines donated by West
Nigeria on Wednesday destroyed over one million doses of British AstraZeneca vaccines that were expired to assure a concerned public that they have been removed from circulation.
The destruction came more than a week after health authorities said some COVID-19 doses donated by rich Western nations had a shelf life that left only weeks to administer the shots.
Reuters reported on Dec. 7 that around one million COVID-19 vaccines were estimated to have expired in Nigeria in November without being used.
At a dump site in Abuja, a bulldozer crushed AstraZeneca shots that were packed in cardboard boxes and plastic as reporters and health officials watched.
Faisal Shuaib, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency executive director told reporters that a shortage of vaccine supplies on the continent, had forced Nigeria to take the doses, knowing fully well they had a short shelf life.
"We have successfully withdrawn 1,066,214 doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccines. We have kept our promise to be transparent to Nigerians. The destruction today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have faith in our vaccination programme," Shuaib said.
Governments on the continent of over one billion people have been pushing for more vaccine deliveries as inoculation rates lag richer regions. The lower vaccination levels raise the risk of higher infection and death rates from COVID-19, especially as new, fast-spreading variants emerge such as Omicron.
Health minister Osagie Ehanire has said Nigeria will no longer accept vaccines with a short shelf life, citing a presidential committee decision.
The World Health Organisation said 12,971,729 vaccine doses have been administered in Nigeria as of Dec. 19.
Africa's most populous country, with a population exceeding 200 million, has recorded 227,378 COVID-19 cases and 2,989 deaths since the pandemic started.
Nigeria has been seeing a spike in confirmed infections since it detected the highly-infectious omicron variant in late November, recording a 500% increase in cases over the past two weeks, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.
Recently, like many other African countries, Nigeria has seen a surge in vaccine supply, which has highlighted other issues relating to distribution and hesitation by citizens to get inoculated.