The federal government has said that it is now rejecting COVID-19 vaccines with short shelf life or those that cannot be delivered on time.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said this in reaction to a report of one million COVID-19 vaccines expiring in the country.
The Minister stated that they’ve utilised most of the over 10 million short-shelf-life doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far supplied to it, in good time, and saved N16.4 billion or more than $40million in foreign exchange.
Noting that donation of surplus COVID-19 vaccines with expiring shelf lives to developing countries has been a matter of international discussion, Ehanire averred that developing countries like Nigeria accept them “because they close our critical vaccine supply gaps and, being free, save us scarce foreign exchange procurement cost”.
He also asked donors who recognise a need to give away unused vaccines before they expire in their own stock, to begin the process early enough and create a well-oiled pathway for prompt shipment and distribution through the COVAX and AVAT facilities, to reduce risk of expiration.
The Minister said;
“This dilemma is not typical to Nigeria, but a situation in which many Low- and medium-income countries find themselves.
“The Ministry of Health shares its experience with partners regularly and now politely declines all vaccine donations with short shelf life or those that cannot be delivered in time.
“With better coordination, vaccines need not expire in the stock of Donors or Recipients.”
Ehanire also disclosed that a long term measure to prevent quick expiration of COVID-19 vaccines, is for the country to produce its own vaccines so it can have at least 12 months to expiration.
“This is why the Federal Ministry of Health is collaborating with stakeholders to fast-track establishment of indigenous vaccine manufacturing capacity. This is a goal we are pursuing with dedication.”