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Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses go to waste

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses go to waste

Vaccine distributors across the US have collectively discarded over 82.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from December 2020 through mid-May of 2022. This represents over 11% of the total federal government-distributed vaccines. Recent data released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows a sharp increase in the number of vaccines going to waste over time. In February, the CDC had announced a waste of 65 million doses, the number now rising to 82.1 million doses in just under three months.

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Among those that have contributed to the waste include individual states, pharmacies, federal agencies, and US territories. Retail pharmacies, CVS, and Walmart are among the leading bodies to have thrown away a huge number of doses. Other pharmacies including Health Mart, DaVita, Rite Aid, Publix, and Costco also wasted more than a quarter of the doses they were required to distribute.

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The states of Oklahoma and Alaska also wasted more than a quarter of the vaccines they were required to distribute each. Oklahoma wasted 28% of its 4 million doses while Alaska wasted 27% of its 1 million doses over the period in question.

Among the wasted vaccines include those that expired on the shelf and those that were spoiled by broken freezers or power outage issues. However, a big chunk of the dosses was tossed at the end of the day when there were no candidates to use the remaining few doses of an opened vial. Part of the problem has been that once a vial has been opened, it must be used within a couple of hours.

While the overall amount of waste is within the acceptable levels by the World Health Organization, public health experts have raised concerns. The health experts say that such huge wastes should be avoided considering that less than half of vaccinated Americans are yet to get a booster shot.

Besides the Americans who need booster shots, there are millions of people across the world who are yet to get vaccinated. The doses could be helpful to such people.

“It’s a tremendous loss to pandemic control — especially in the context of millions of people around the world who haven’t even been able to get the first dose,” said Dr. Sheela Shenoi, an infectious disease expert at the Yale School of Medicine.

Via NBC News


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