At least 45,000 vaccines could go to waste as their expiration date rapidly approaches. According to officials in Prague, the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines are due to expire next month, and the vaccine, which is only available to over 60s, is in low demand due to possible side effects. Around 55,000 doses of the vaccine were exported to the Czech Republic and these are all set to expire by the end of October, Czech radio station IROZHLAS has reported.
Close to 10,000 vaccines are expected to be used as a second dose but the remaining batches appear as though they may have to be destroyed unless demand goes back up again.
Current demand for the jab is shockingly low, as data cited in the report shows only 36 people elected for an AstraZeneca shot for their first dose this September, and only 776 people have received that vaccine so far.
In July and August, about 1,200 vaccine requests accounted for the AstraZeneca jab – a tiny proportion of the 860,000 people who applied for their first dose during that time.
But already, more than 14,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine have been thrown away in the past month because of a lack of interest from the public, according to Czech media.
Part of the reason for the steep decline in demand for AstraZeneca vaccines has been blamed on the fact the Czech health ministry has recommended the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines only be given to those older than 60 since July.
The measure was taken after reports of potentially deadly blood clots detected in some younger people after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
But while the cases are reportedly very rare, several countries, the Czech Republic included, have limited or stopped rolling out that vaccine.
The spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Health, Daniel Koppl, said the government doubts that they will be able to make use of the large bulk of remaining vaccines before they expire next month.
While Prague recently donated over 200,000 doses of AstraZeneca to other countries, the legal processes involved in that arrangement means there is not enough time to arrange to donate them this time.
This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) called on nations stockpiling vaccines to share them with developing nations.
Mr Koppl has now argued part of the problem is that unused doses have already been distributed across the Czech Republic.
He told Radiozurnal: “The law does not allow us to donate these vaccines, because the moment they are removed from the controlled distribution chain, they are expected to be used. They cannot be passed on.”
So far, 55 percent of the Czech population eligible to receive the vaccine have been given both doses, but the government set a 75 percent vaccination rate as their target.
Globally, WHO data indicates more than 5.3 billion vaccines have already been administered, as of September 10.
Here in the UK, more than 48.4 million people have had their first jab and more than 43.9 million people have had their second jab.