Belgium will be forced to dispose of 1.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by July, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir with reference to information from the Federal Vaccination Taskforce.
As many as 436,800 first doses of AstraZeneca vaccines are set to expire at the end of May, and an additional 880,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna will no longer be usable in July.
In April, the Belgian government destroyed around €98.5 million of face masks, testing materials, and medicines related to the coronavirus because they were past their expiry date or were damaged.
In a scandal on 18 May, Belgium was accused of attempting to dump much of its stock of nearly expired Covid strategic stockpile on Ukraine. It sent around 280,000 medicines and 140,000 syringes that would have expired shortly after arrival. These were later removed from shipments.
Belgium is not the first country to begin liquidating much of its stocks of vaccines and personal protective equipment.
In total, the EU threw away more than 55 million doses of vaccine by the end of February and donated a further 25 million to Africa, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA). France also threw away 3.6 million doses of vaccines last month.
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European policy has always been to order excessive vaccines in order to ensure a diversification of supply. However, as the global pandemic begins to ease, and global vaccination campaigns slow down, the Belgian government started to gather a stockpile of up to 9 million doses.
Belgium cannot easily donate these doses to other countries, as the EU has done with Africa, as the global vaccine distribution program Covax now has more doses that it needs to cover global demand.
Unless there is a new vaccination campaign, or a new variant of concern emerges somewhere in Europe, it will be necessary to continue to dispose of this stockpile.