stocks of vaccines piling up all over the world

A batch of Moderna Covid vaccines, donated by the US government through Covax, at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on August 23, 2021.

As of March 10, the number of doses of Covid-19 vaccines stored worldwide stood at more than 2.2 billion, according to calculations by the scientific data analysis company Airfinity. China alone has 13% of this total, followed by Bangladesh and Indonesia. In low-income countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, etc.) or lower middle-income countries (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Nigeria, Egypt), stocks have increased drastically from October 2021, mainly through deliveries from Covax, the international program responsible for providing vaccines to developing countries, or last-minute bilateral donations.

In Africa, the stock of vaccines has thus increased from 80 million doses before October to more than 300 million today. In the end, 40% of the doses received by this continent have not yet been administered. Worse: in the 27 low-income countries, the number of doses in stock now exceeds the number of doses administered (118 million doses stored for 94 million doses administered).

As to how many of these doses are already expired or will soon be, hard to say. “Unfortunately, we do not know the shelf life of the doses when they are given,” explains Sarah Harper, of Airfinity. Only indication: according to the World Health Organization, more than two thirds of the doses given last year had a remaining life of less than three months. Reported per billion doses distributed by Covax, this means that approximately 660 million doses have been received, with a very short time to organize the vaccination campaigns. Of this billion doses, 35% have still not been administered, underlines Airfinity.

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