Nigeria: The mystery of expired Covid vaccines

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Tuesday, 21 December 2021 09:51

Muslims wait to register their names before taking a Moderna COVD-19 vaccination outside the Kuje, Central Mosque outskirts of Abuja, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. AP Photo/Gbemiga Olamikan)

Nigeria has administered just over 11 million Covid-19 vaccinations, with around 2% of the population having received two doses. There are reports that this low number is partly due to European countries sending in vaccinations that are near the expiration date.

With more citizens killed in various conflicts around the nation than by the coronavirus last year, it may not come as a surprise that many people are not in a rush to take the vaccine. Those that frequently travel internationally appear most interested in the double dose.

However, there is another problem, that goes beyond citizens’ priorities. According to Reuters, up to one million Covid-19 vaccines are estimated to have expired before use in the country in November.

A source told Reuters that the doses were being delivered within four to six weeks of expiry, so despite the best efforts by the health authorities, they could not all be used in time.

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s country representative, told Agence France-Presse (AFP): “Normally a country like Nigeria would not receive any vaccine or drugs without a six-month expiry date. Some of these vaccines have six-week expiry dates.”

Jab from On High

There is a new drive for doses to be administered in churches and mosques – a surer way to get to the average Nigerian.

In addition, a doctor at a private clinic based in Lagos says: “The clinic will soon be administering Covid-19 vaccines that will be supplied by the government. Some private clinics and hospitals have started.”

He also tells The Africa Report that although he does not have insider knowledge of vaccine distribution in the country, he has heard that “the Nigerian government wants to address this [vaccines near expiry] by only allowing vaccines (charity or government imported) that have long expiry dates. Possibly a year or more.”

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