Malawi set to destroy 19,000 expired Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccines

Health authorities in Malawi are expected to destroy more than 19,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines later today.

They say the vaccines have expired and there is no sufficient data to know if they are safe for use, following guidance from the World Health Organization.

The authorities say the move seeks to give confidence to Malawians to get the jab when available.

So far, the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines has been low, mostly because of widespread misinformation around their use.

Officials fear that using vaccines past their expiry date will further reduce public trust.

However the government in Malawi is optimistic that the uptake will improve once they get the next batch from Covax.

More than 330,000 Malawians have been vaccinated.

Malawi will become the first African country to publicly dispose of expired vaccines.

Malawi received 16,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and South Sudan has 59,000 doses, which are now past their expiry date of 13 April.

Both countries say they have decided to destroy these consignments, donated via the African Union.

Despite the WHO originally asked for the vaccines to be kept while it investigated whether the expiry date could be safely extended,

They now say vaccines already sent out by the manufacturer and which are expired should be thrown away.

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