Authorities in Nigeria have destroyed more than one million expired doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, despite cases in the West African country rising by around 500% in the last two weeks.
The 1,066,214 expired doses were destroyed on Wednesday at a landfill in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, a week after the nation said it will no longer accept donated coronavirus vaccines with short-shelf lives.
The executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said that when the vaccines were offered to the country, “we knew that they had a short self-life, but we were living in an environment where the supply of COVID-19 vaccines was very scarce”.
Shuaib blames “vaccine nationalism” in developed countries for hoarding vaccines until they “were about to expire” before donating them.
The National Food and Drug Administration (NFDA) is one of the few agencies in Africa that tests vaccines before their use.
The NFDA director, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, said that they had informed donors of this fact.
Nigeria has been seeing a spike in confirmed infections since it detected the highly-infectious Omicron variant in late November, recording a 500% increase in the number of cases in the past two weeks, according to the country’s Centre for Disease Control.
Vaccination is also rapidly picking up in the most populous country in Africa, which has set an ambitious goal of fully vaccinating 55 million of its 206 million citizens before February 2022, although only 2% have received their two doses so far.
The 2,123 new COVID-19 infections Nigeria confirmed on Tuesday were the highest daily tally since January 2021 and the second-highest since the beginning of the outbreak.