Health authorities in Malawi set fire to 19,610 expired doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
The World Health Organization advised the country against burning the expired doses. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended that Malawi not torch the doses.
But Malawi says it has its own laws to abide by.
“We are destroying (these vaccines) because as government policy no expired health commodities are to be used,” Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said. “Historically under the expanded immunization program of Malawi no expired vaccine has ever been used.”
Chiponda says the action will prove to Malians that they are not receiving out-of-date vaccines.
“We are destroying publicly in order to stay accountable to Malawians. The vaccines that expired are not being used during the vaccination campaign,” she said. “On behalf of the government, I assure all Malawians that no one will be given an expired COVID vaccine.”
Malawi received 102,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the African Union on March 26. Nearly 80% of the doses have been administered.
“While discarding vaccines is deeply regrettable in the context of any immunisation programme, WHO recommends that these expired doses should be removed from the distribution chain and safely disposed of,” it said in a statement on May 17.
The statement also says that “there is no special procedure applied for disposing COVID-19 vaccines. Disposal should follow the existing national guidelines for the safe disposal of vaccines.”
Early March, several European governments announced they were suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over reports of blood clots. The numbers were small, but some Malawians were put off by the news.