London: Amid fears of over blood clot risk, about 4.7 million Covid vaccine doses were wasted in the UK by the end of October 2021, according to a government report.
According to the National Audit Office (NAO), this included about 1.9 million AstraZeneca shots that ended up in the bins, BBC reported.
The NAO, which scrutinises spending of public money, said the wastage is far lower than projected for the country’s most ambitious vaccination programme ever.
Experts had assumed 20 per cent of stocks might not be used, because of handling and storage problems or expiry dates.
The NAO said the vaccine programme met “stretching and unprecedented targets” to save lives.
But it was left with too many expiring AstraZeneca doses, after experts recommended that people under 40 should preferably be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, to avoid a rare but possible link to blood clots.
Some wastage was avoided by redirecting 4.5 million AstraZeneca doses to other countries, but stocks already at local sites had to be destroyed in line with regulations. Approximately 1.9 million doses were written off, the report said.
“The vaccine programme has been successful in getting early access to what were brand new vaccines, securing supply of them, and administering them to a large proportion of the population at unprecedented speed,” Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, was quoted as saying.
“The programme must now redouble its efforts to reach those who are not yet vaccinated, while also considering what a more sustainable model will involve as it moves out of its emergency phase,” he added.
AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was developed in collaboration with Oxford University and rolled out in less than 12 months in the UK. It was celebrated as a UK success story and billed as “Britain’s gift to the world”.
But fears over the links to blood clots led several countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland, and Thailand, to pause their use of the vaccine.
Doubts cast by several scientists and politicians alike over the efficacy of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, developed in collaboration with the Oxford University “probably killed hundreds of thousands of people”, Prof John Bell, an Oxford scientist who worked on the jab, told a BBC Two documentary, early this month.
“I think bad behaviour from scientists and from politicians has probably killed hundreds of thousands of people — and they cannot be proud of that,” Bell said
“They have damaged the reputation of the vaccine in a way that echoes around the rest of the world,” he added.