Malawi Incinerates Nearly 20,000 Expired AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

Health authorities in Malawi have destroyed 19,610 expired doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on May 19, stating that the move would reassure the public of the African country’s vaccination program.

“We are destroying publicly in order to stay accountable to Malawians that the vaccines that expired are not being used during the vaccination campaign, and on behalf of the government, I assure all Malawians that no one will be given an expired COVID vaccine,” Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said.

Principal Health Secretary Dr. Charles Mwansambo told BBC News that people stopped coming to vaccination clinics when news that the vaccines were “out-of-date” spread.

“If we don’t burn them, people will think that we are using expired vaccines in our facilities and if they don’t come, COVID-19 will hit them hard,” Mwansambo said.

According to Chiponda, no expired vaccine has ever been used under the extended vaccination program.

Videos posted by the health ministry on social media showed Chiponda with health authorities loading the expired vaccines and diesel in an incinerator at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital of Lilongwe.

The 30-minute incinerating process left behind just broken pieces of the vials holding the liquid.

The doses expired last April 13 and were part of a batch of 102,000 vaccines Malawi acquired from the African Union and the World Health Organization last March 26, which gave Malawi only three weeks to administer them.

Malawi managed to administer nearly 80% of the vaccine doses.

According to data from the health ministry, Malawi has administered a total of 336,826 vaccine doses as of May 19.

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