The UK disposed of over 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the jabs were allowed to pass their expiry date, according to a report by The Independent.
Oxfam has described this as an “absolute scandal”, as the government did not donate the doses to poorer countries with low rates of vaccination against COVID-19, despite prior promises to redistribute supplies no longer needed by the UK. The data was obtained by a Freedom of Information request, which showed 604,400 vaccines expired in August before being disposed of at the end of the month.
This came after the decision to stop offering the jab to younger age groups in the UK, due to concerns about instances of blood clotting.
The Labour Party have said that it was “staggering that such a colossal quantity of life-saving jabs were allowed to go to waste.”
Oxfam health policy manager, Anna Marriott, said: “Our estimates suggest at least 100 million vaccine doses could go unused and expire in G7 countries by the end of this year.”
All this means that the UK is set to break its promise on international vaccination donations, and a cross-party group of MPs and peers has warned that the government may only deliver half of its pledge of 100 million by June 2022.
Only two percent of people are fully vaccinated in lower-income countries, and only ten percent in lower-middle-income countries, compared with more than half in high-income countries.
The boosters have been administered to the over 50s, front-line medical staff and people with high-risk health conditions, but the UK recently extended its vaccination booster programme to over 40s, to increase protection and help limit the spread of COVID-19 in preparation for the winter period. So far, 12.6 million people have received a booster dose.