Poorer countries rejected over 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines distributed by the COVAX facility last month due to their nearing expiry dates, Reuters reports.
A large number of vaccine rejections demonstrates the difficulty of vaccinating the world’s population, despite growing supplies of shots.
COVAX has delivered nearly 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to almost 150 countries, however, more than 100 million vaccines were rejected in December alone, according to a UNICEF official.
The vaccines, which are still sorely needed, have been rejected because of a short shelf-life.
At the same time, poorer countries have insufficient storage facilities as well as facing high levels of vaccine hesitancy and healthcare systems that are close to being overwhelmed.
The report by Reuters suggests more than 30 poorer nations, including larger countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, have used fewer than half the doses they received.
The high storage level was due to a surge in deliveries in the last quarter of 2021, particularly in December, as rich countries began to donate more vaccines after successfully vaccinating their own populations.
The increased supply took many poorer countries by surprise, grateful for the new vaccines but unable to store or distribute them in time.
According to WHO figures, in January, 67% of the population in richer nations had been fully vaccinated, whereas only 8% in poorer nations have received their first dose.
In Nigeria, for example, with a population of over 200 million people, fewer than 4% of adults have been fully vaccinated, yet one million unused vaccines are estimated to have expired last month.