Lux avoids vaccine waste as EU countries destroy doses

56,000 doses of vaccines was delivered to Cabo Verde (13.09.2021) Photo: MAEE

56,000 doses of vaccines was delivered to Cabo Verde (13.09.2021) Photo: MAEE

As tens of thousands of coronavirus vaccine doses are being destroyed across the EU after reaching their expiration date, Luxembourg has yet to throw away any vials, the health ministry has confirmed.

The EU in total has secured up to 4.6bn doses for its population of around 447m inhabitants. More than 700m doses have been delivered to member countries. But many are going unused as vaccination campaigns are wrapping up or amid waning interest by the population.

In Germany, more than 84,000 doses have been destroyed because they expired, data compiled by public broadcaster ARD shows. This includes numbers for only half of the country’s federal states. Another 148,000 doses are in the process of being returned to federal authorities.

In Lithuania, more than 20,000 doses have been discarded, compared to 73,000 in Poland. In the Czech Republic more than 3,000 are no longer usable, with this number at around 50,000 in France, according to Euractiv.

“The number of vaccine doses used has indeed decreased over the past weeks as a majority of the population is already vaccinated,” health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) said in answer to a parliamentary question on Tuesday.

“The government is doing everything so that no doses expire,” she said, adding that stock is managed according to the first expired, first out principle and that the health administration is closely monitoring expiration dates.

So far, none of the doses delivered to Luxembourg have expired and, as a result, have not had to be destroyed, Lenert said.

The World Health Organization and the European Commission have urged countries to donate doses rather than letting them go to waste.

While in the EU more than 70% of adults are fully vaccinated, only 1% of people in low-income countries and 28% of the world population have received at least on dose.

The health minister said Luxembourg would not donate doses that are close to reaching their expiration date and would risk being unusable by the time they reach their destination and can be administered.

The government has so far decided to donate 350,000 doses. A batch of 56,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses was delivered to Cape Verde this week.