A million vaccine shots tossed in Indonesia on short expiry date

A million vaccine shots tossed in Indonesia on short expiry date

FILE PHOTO: Workers unload boxes of AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 that arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, March 8, 2021. More than a million Covid-19 vaccine shots expired in Indonesia before they could be given out, as most of them were donated with a short shelf life. (Muhammad Iqbal/Antara Foto via REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: Workers unload boxes of AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 that arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, March 8, 2021. More than a million Covid-19 vaccine shots expired in Indonesia before they could be given out, as most of them were donated with a short shelf life. (Muhammad Iqbal/Antara Foto via REUTERS)

More than a million Covid-19 vaccine shots expired in Indonesia before they could be given out, as most of them were donated with a short shelf life.

Of the 1.1 million doses that were thrown out, about 98% were donated just one to three months away from expiry, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in parliament on Wednesday. 

As richer nations bought more shots than they could administer, they sought to donate them to places that can distribute them quickly, which meant a rush of shipments to Indonesia toward the end of last year, he added. Going forward, the government will be more selective and only accept doses expiring in three months or longer.

“We will still try to accept these shots considering they’re free and those are good vaccines that we can give to our people,” said Sadikin.

Indonesia needs around 100 million extra vaccine doses for its booster program, most of which were being met by donations from the Covax facility and the rest via bilateral agreements. 

Other nations including Nigeria and Uganda have also had to destroy expired doses due to short shelf lives, posing another challenge to Covax’s efforts to distribute vaccines to poorer nations. Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous nation, has administered more than 300 million shots so far, with 44% of its 270 million people fully inoculated. 

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