Malawi destroys 20,000 expired doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

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Malawi's Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda, places COVID-19 vaccines in an incinerator, in Lilongwe, Malawi, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Malawi has burned nearly 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines because they had expired. The government incinerated over 19,000 doses of the vaccine at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital Lilongwe. According to Health Secretary Charles Mwansambo the vaccines were the remainder of 102,000 doses that arrived in Malawi on March 26 with just 18 days until they expired on April 13. (AP Photo/Jacob Nankhonya)

BLANTYRE – Malawi has burned nearly 20,000 expired AstraZeneca vaccines, amid conflicting advice over what to do with the doses.

Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda put some of the vials of the expired doses into an incinerator to start the destruction Wednesday at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, the capital.

“We are destroying (these vaccines) because as government policy no expired health commodities are to be used,” she said. “Historically under the expanded immunization program of Malawi no expired vaccine has ever been used.”

She said burning the vaccines will build public confidence that all vaccines used in Malawi are good.

“We are destroying publicly in order to stay accountable to Malawians. The vaccines that expired are not being used during the vaccination campaign," she said. "On behalf of the government, I assure all Malawians that no one will be given an expired COVID vaccine.”

The burned vaccines were the remainder of 102,000 doses that arrived in Malawi on March 26 with just 18 days until they expired on April 13. All other doses of the shipment, donated by the African Union, were successfully administered, she said.

The health minister thanked WHO, the African Union and India for donating the vaccines.

“This has made it possible for Malawi to embark on the COVID vaccination campaign currently underway,” she said.