‘Over 100 m doses to expire globally by year-end’

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on September 20, 2021

Airfinity’s forecast comes ahead of a vaccine summit to be chaired by US President

More than 100 million vaccines are set to expire by the end of the year and need to be redistributed immediately, said science analytics company Airfinity. Their projections come at a time when public health advocates around the world call out developed countries over the inequitable distribution of vaccines.

Two-month shelf-life

But the projection gets worse, when taking into account the two-month shelf-life, beyond which vaccines are wasted. That estimate takes the wasted doses number up to 241 million.

“G7 and EU will have 1 billion more vaccines than they need by the end of 2021, 10 per cent of these are expected to expire this year, too,” the firm estimated. Further, it points out, “when you factor in the time needed to administer vaccine programmes in Lower Income Countries (LICs) and Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs), many of these countries will refuse vaccines that don’t have at least a two-month shelf life.”

Once this two-month shelf life is considered, the number of doses that could potentially be wasted reaches 241 million by the end of 2021, which is a quarter of the G7 and EU surplus stock, said the UK-based firm.

Airfinity Co-founder and Chief Executive, Rasmus Bech Hansen, said: “The world has witnessed two extraordinary scientific achievements in the pandemic – the fast development of highly effective vaccines and the unprecedented scale up of production. For the world to get the full benefit of this, our data show we need a third equally unprecedented achievement – a large scale, rapid, globally coordinated, science-driven vaccination campaign.”

According to the firm, “the available vaccines in the G7 and EU – combined with already purchased doses and Covax deliveries – are enough for LICs and LMICs to vaccinate 70 per cent of their populations by May 2022.”

Recently, GAVI’s CEO, Dr Seth Berkley, reacting to Big Pharma projections that there were enough doses to go round the world, said: “The question we ask is where are those doses if there’s enough for everybody?” The reference was to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) citing Airfinity data to say that Covid vaccines dose production would reach 7.5 billion by September-end at a rate of nearly 1.5 billion doses each month.

By January 2022, there will be sufficient vaccines produced for every adult on every continent, they added. The analysis of excess vaccines assumed that the G7 nations and EU continue with their vaccination roll outs and administer booster shots to everyone over the age of 12, said Airfinity.

Excess stock

Gavi, World Health Organization, African Union and other public health voices, have been calling for a more equitable distribution of vaccines. And WHO chief, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had said he was tired of promises being made by countries on sharing their excess stock.

Vaccine summit

Airfinity’s forecast comes ahead of a Global Vaccine Summit to be chaired by US President Joe Biden on September 22. It estimates that globally Covid cases are likely to exceed 400 million by mid-2022, and the immediate redistribution of vaccines could potentially avert nearly one million Covid deaths.

Published on September 20, 2021

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