COVID-19 vaccines go to waste as rollout stalls

Australian medical professionals are speaking out about mass amounts of COVID-19 vaccine wastage, calling for more government direction in donating the vaccines to developing countries.

It comes as GPs are reportedly throwing out thousands of expired vaccines due to dwindling demand.

More than 95 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 have received two doses, and about 300,000 vaccines are administered nationally each week.

Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine, previously COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. (AP)

However, in recent weeks vaccine uptake has slowed, with just 68.9 per cent of the eligible population having received three or more shots, a figure that has moved only around four per cent in the past month.

Just under half of children aged five to 11 have received their first shot.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) President, Dr Karen Price said urgent action is needed to donate excess doses and minimise unnecessary waste.

“The entire developed world, including Australia, needs to wake up and do much more to boost vaccination efforts in the developing world,” Dr Price said.

A picture shows a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination drive at the al-Manahel School in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights, on December 12, 2021. (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP) (Photo by JALAA MAREY/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

“This includes ensuring that excess stock isn’t simply thrown in the bin.”

Of the estimated 13 million COVID-19 vaccines currently available across Australia, roughly 10 per cent are discarded by their use by date.

More than 70 health and business groups, including the RACGP, have called on the Federal Government to increase commitment to vaccinating developing countries.

According to the RACGP, Australia has donated less money to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative than other western nations.

COVAX aims to vaccinate 70 per cent of the 92 poorest countries’ population.

A 87-year-old man gets his booster shot at the vaccination center in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Germanys national disease control center has reported a record-high number of more than 50,000 daily coronavirus cases. The infections spike comes as German lawmakers are mulling new legislation that would pave the way for new coronavirus measures. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (AP)

In Papua New Guinea only 3.5 per cent of the population have received a single dose, with only 2.9 per cent considered ‘fully vaccinated’.

The $304.7 million Federal Government Pacific support package is set to expire in June this year, which includes the $67 million in funding for Papua New Guinea.

Dr Price said vaccination rates in the Democratic Republic of Congo are “disheartening”, with less than one per cent ‘fully vaccinated’.

“As long as this remains the case, the virus will continue circulating, mutating, and potentially becoming even more dangerous,” she said.

“The time for action is now.

“This virus will thrive in any unvaccinated community anywhere in the world, it doesn’t respect international boundaries. An investment now will pay health and economic dividends into the future.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: A COVID-19 testing clinic sign at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. NSW has recorded 46 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the deadliest day in the state since the start of the pandemic. NSW also recorded 25,168 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hour reporting period. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

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“If we only concern ourselves with boosting vaccination figures in the world’s wealthy nations, the COVID-19 pandemic will strike again and again. This isn’t a problem that is going to go away, let’s put our focus squarely on the developing world and contribute our fair share to a comprehensive global offensive against this virus.”

Australia has donated more than 25 million doses to countries in South-East Asia, and has dedicated $100 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Innovations or CEPI to help prevent further COVID-19 variants.

Reference-www.9news.com.au

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