The Federal Government has revealed that vaccines donated to the Nigerian Government through the COVAX and AVAT schemes have short expiration shelf lives and could expire before usage. This comes after a report of Nigeria disposing of 1 million vaccines because they expired.
This was disclosed by Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, in a statement on Wednesday, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
The Minister added that due to the short shelf lives of only a few months, it leaves the country with a very short time to use the vaccines, as donor countries donated unused vaccines before they expired in their stock.
What the Minister is saying
The Minister blamed logistic bottlenecks in the country which could make vaccines also expire before usage.
“Nigeria has of late enjoyed the generosity of several, mainly European countries, who have offered us doses of COVID-19 vaccines out of their stockpiles, free of charge, through the COVAX or AVAT facility,” he said.
”These donations are always acknowledged and thankfully received.
“However, some of them have residual shelf lives of only a few months that left us a very short time, some just weeks, to use them, after [deducting] the time to transport, clear, distribute and deliver to users.
”If such vaccines arrive back-to-back or are many, logistic bottlenecks occasionally arise.
”We appreciate the kind gesture of donors, but we also communicate the challenge of short shelf lives,” he said.
The minister revealed that some manufacturers have offered to extend their vaccine shelf life by three months. He added that the practice which is accepted was declined by the Federal Ministry of Health because it was not accommodated in its standards.
“The donation of surplus COVID-19 vaccines with expiring shelf lives to developing countries had been a matter of international discussion.
“This dilemma is not typical to Nigeria, but a situation in which many Low- and medium-income countries find themselves,” he added.
Ehanire urged that donors needed to begin the process early enough and create a well-oiled pathway for prompt shipment and distribution through the COVAX and AVAT facilities, to reduce the risk of expiration. He however added that Nigeria utilised most of the over 10 million short shelf-life doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far supplied, in good time, and saved N16.4 billion or more than US$40 million in foreign exchange.
What you should know
Recall Nairametrics reported earlier that one million COVID-19 vaccines were said to have expired in Nigeria last month without being used, according to Nigerian government sources who spoke to Reuters in a report that was published on Tuesday evening.