Health

Germany would throw away 3 million expired COVID vaccines

BERLIN (AP) — Germany may have to dispose of 3 million expired COVID-19 vaccines by the end of June, the Health Ministry said Monday.

Ministry spokesman Hanno Kautz told reporters in Berlin that “not many doses” had been destroyed so far, although he could not give an exact figure.

Kautz stressed that “we have more vaccines available right now than are being used and than we can donate.” He added that the United Nations-backed program for distributing injections to the poorest countries, COVAX, is currently not accepting donations.

“There is certainly a danger that vaccines will be wasted,” Kautz said. However, he said it had recently emerged that the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine may be stored for longer than previously thought, so German authorities now believe 3 million doses are likely to be disposed of or destroyed for purposes June, down from an earlier estimate of 10 million.

Germany’s vaccination program has slowed considerably, with an average of just 33,000 injections given per day over the past week, compared with more than a million when the country’s booster campaign was in full swing in December.

76% of the population have been fully vaccinated and 59% have also received a booster. Authorities are dissatisfied with the vaccination rate, particularly among the elderly, but the German parliament last week rejected a proposal to require everyone over 60 to be vaccinated.

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