At least 15 million doses of vaccines against covid-19 have been discarded in the United States since March 1, reported the broadcaster NBC on Wednesday (1), citing data from US health officials.
The number of missed doses was reported by states and pharmacies to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the country’s leading federal public health agency. This is likely an underreporting as several states and federal agencies did not provide data.
The reasons for discarding the doses can be different: expiration date, dilution error, refrigeration problems, broken bottles…
As a bottle contains several doses, once opened, the remaining doses should be used in the following hours, or discarded for lack of use.
While some vendors report thousands of shots thrown away at once, the most common reports are only four shots dropped at a time, according to NBC.
Two national drugstore chains, Walgreens and CVS, reported over two million missed doses each, and Walmart and Rite Aide over one million.
According to previous data provided by the CDC, between the start of the US vaccination campaign in December 2020 and March, only about 200,000 doses were missed.
Of the roughly 15 million, most were dropped during the summer months (June to August), NBC notes. This number represents a small fraction of the number of doses distributed across the country since December (approximately 444 million), in addition to the number of doses actually administered (371 million).
However, vaccination against covid is still very unequal in the world and the race to obtain doses is a reality, as several countries have not managed to immunize more than a small part of their population, mainly in Africa.
“It’s a question of equality,” Tim Doran, a professor of public health at New York University, told NBC.
“There are very rich countries that have access to vaccines and just throw the doses away,” he added.
The United States announced in early August the donation of 110 million doses and began distributing a portion of Pfizer’s 500 million doses promised to poor countries at the end of August.