Leftover AstraZeneca vaccines discarded despite hopes they will be donated
Tens of thousands of leftover AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines will soon end up in the trash. GPs and other healthcare professionals have been rallying to donate the vaccines to countries that still have a low vaccination rate. A petition to stop the vaccines from being discarded was signed over nine thousand times.
“We really cannot do that due to strict European regulations”, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Health told NU.nl.
It has been estimated that around 90 thousand vaccines will be thrown away. Due to cases of severe Thrombosis after vaccination with AstraZeneca, the government decided to stop using the vaccine for people under 60.
The vaccines have since been stored in freezers at the GGD and in the offices of GPs.
“You are not sure if the vaccines were always stored at the right temperature and if they still work optimally”, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health said. AstraZeneca vaccines must be stored at between two to eight degrees Celsius, otherwise, they become less effective.
Bernard Leenstra, creator of the platform Prullenbakvaccin, said it is nearly impossible that the vaccines were stored incorrectly. The fridges of the GGD and GPs have an alarm function that goes off if the temperature inside becomes too high or low.
Leenstra hoped for a temporary relaxation of the strict European guidelines for donating vaccines. In some countries in Africa, vaccination rates were still only at one percent. In the Netherlands, more than 22 thousand Covid-19 vaccine doses have already been administered.
Even if the vaccine is less effective, it is still better than nothing, according to Leenstra, “If the efficiency drops from 90 to 60 percent that is still more than entirely no protection.”
The regulations create a sense of false safety, Leenstra said. “False safety is the wrong reason to not release properly stored vaccines for export. People die from Covid-19, there is nothing ‘safe’ about that.”