About 92,370 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are due to expire and will be disposed according to minimum standard for the disposal and destruction of medicines and scheduled substances.
AT THE end of the month, about 92,370 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are due to expire and will be disposed according to minimum standard for the disposal and destruction of medicines and scheduled substances.
This volume is equivalent to 0.24% of all Pfizer doses received, which is under the World Health Organization (WHO) 10% acceptable ratio of vaccine waste.
According to the national Department of Health, all expiring stock is held in quarantine until the last day of expiry.
“The current stock of Pfizer vaccine have the following expiry dates: 897,270 doses to expire in May, 5,845,800 to expire in June, while 4,831,560 are facing expiry by the end of July,” it said.
“The manufacturers’ shelf life from the date of manufacture of the Comirnaty® (Pfizer) vaccine is nine months when stored at minus 70ºC and 24 months for the Covid-19 vaccine Janssen® when stored at minus 20ºC. However, by the time the vaccine is received in-country, this already shelf life is reduced.
“In contrast to the demand at the start of the vaccination programme, the current demand for vaccine has waned. The department continues to explore various options to mitigate the wastage of vaccines as a result of expiry, including exchange and donation through COVAX Facility.
“However, not all countries use the same vaccines as those administered in South Africa, while other countries are also facing low vaccine uptake.
“The challenge of vaccine hesitancy is not only experienced in South Africa, but globally, hence several countries had to dispose of expired vaccines as well,“ the Health Department added.
While experts anticipate the next wave of Covid-19 infections around the winter period, the government said it was working with various stakeholders to continuously explore various vaccine demand creation strategies to increase uptake.
“We are not out of the woods yet, and all unvaccinated and partly vaccinated people are urged to fully vaccinate and get booster shots to enhance their protection from severe illness and death,“ the department said.