Nigeria burned almost a million doses of outdated AstraZeneca vaccinations on Wednesday in an effort to reassure a suspicious public that they had been removed from circulation.
The devastation occurred more than a week after health officials announced that certain COVID-19 dosages supplied by wealthy Western countries had a shelf life of only a few weeks, leaving only a few weeks to deliver the shots. According to Reuters, around one million COVID-19 vaccinations expired in Nigeria in November without being used, according to Reuters.
As reporters and health authorities looked on, a bulldozer smashed AstraZeneca shots that were stacked in cardboard boxes and plastic at a landfill site in Abuja.
According to Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, a paucity of vaccination supplies on the continent compelled Nigeria to accept the doses, despite the fact that they had a limited shelf life.
“We were able to successfully remove 1,066,214 doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccinations from the market. We have honored our pledge to Nigerians to be transparent. Today’s devastation provides Nigerians with an opportunity to believe in our immunization campaign “Shuaib remarked.
As inoculation rates lag in richer regions, governments across the continent of nearly one billion people have pushed for greater vaccine delivery. Lower vaccination levels increase the chance of COVID-19 infection and mortality, especially as new, fast-spreading forms such as Omicron arise.
Health minister Osagie Ehanire has said Nigeria will no longer accept vaccines with a short shelf life, citing a presidential committee decision.
The World Health Organization said 12,971,729 vaccine doses have been administered in Nigeria as of Dec. 19.
Africa’s most populous country, with a population exceeding 200 million, has recorded 227,378 COVID-19 cases and 2,989 deaths since the pandemic started.
Health experts say Nigeria needs to triple its vaccination drive from just over 100,000 doses a day to meet its target to inoculate more than half its population by the end of next year.
Recently, like many other African countries, Nigeria has seen a surge in vaccine supply, which has highlighted other issues relating to distribution and hesitation by citizens to get inoculated.