Around 1.1 billion doses of Covid vaccine may have been thrown away by governments around the world, according to new estimates.
Airfinity, a science and data analysis company, said its analysis indicated significant underreporting of vaccine waste.
A total of 158 million cans are said to have been publicly discarded worldwide, Airfinity said, citing newspaper reports and government statements.
Most of these reports do not indicate which vaccine type was discarded. Of those who name the manufacturer, the Russian Sputnik V has the highest waste numbers (25 million cans). AstraZeneca follows with claims of 19 million wasted jabs.
Airfinity’s analysis assumes a wastage rate of 10 percent from June 2021, when global dose sharing began. This rate is based on verified waste in the United States and takes into account an average shelf life of six months.
The rate of vaccine wastage in the UK is between 3 and 5 per cent, according to an analysis LatestPageNews.
LatestPageNews also revealed last November that the government had thrown away more than 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the shots passed their expiration date.
Airfinity estimates that 14 billion vaccine doses have been shipped worldwide to date, of which 1.1 billion have been wasted and unused.
dr Airfinity Analytics Director Matt Linley said: “Despite countries’ efforts to avoid waste, some level is inevitable.
“Large vials with multiple doses can complicate efficiency, as can cold chain storage and anticipating daily needs or simply a vial that is dropped or left standing for too long.
“Vaccines in single-dose vials with longer shelf lives that are easier to transport and store will reduce wastage over time.”
Rasmus Bech Hansen, CEO and co-founder of Airfinity, said: “If we want a rapid global vaccine response system, we must accept some level of wasted doses. But the fewer the better, and ongoing monitoring of waste levels is an important part of global health intelligence.”
Julia Kosgei, policy adviser to global health activists at the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said much of the Covid-19 vaccine waste was due to the “deeply uneven global response to this pandemic”.
She said: “These vaccines have been developed with unprecedented public funding and should be global public goods. Instead, vaccine monopolies have concentrated manufacturing and distribution in a handful of countries. And the needs of the developing world were dealt with afterwards.”
She added that governments “dumped large numbers of often near-expiry date cans into developing countries without notice, leading to further waste.”