The life-saving shots of the vaccine are said to have been chucked away instead of being exported to poorer countries in the developing world in what has been dubbed as “disgraceful”. The Government had originally pledged to redistribute its supplies to countries that found it difficult to access COVID-19 vaccines as the doses were no longer required in the UK due to a surplus.
The UK took the decision in May to stop vaccinating people under 40 with the AstraZeneca shots following reports of blood clotting in rare cases.
And this reportedly meant there was a surplus of 604,400 vaccines, which had to be destroyed after expiring in August, according to data obtained by the Independent through a Freedom of Information request.
The move has stoked up a surge of fury.
Oxfam said the decision was “disgraceful” that vaccines were destroyed while health workers in developing nations can’t even access a single dose.
They added that it was “an absolute scandal” that over 600,000 life-saving vaccines were disposed and said that this is “very much the tip of the iceberg”.
Anna Marriott, a health policy manager at Oxfam, said: “Our estimates suggest at least 100 million vaccine doses could go unused and expire in G7 countries by the end of this year.
“This number could increase even further to around 800 million wasted doses by mid-2022. There’s a clear case that rich countries have to get their act together here.”
At a G7 summit in June, Westminster made a commitment to donate 100 million vaccine doses to developing nations by mid-2022.
But currently, only 20 million have been exported overseas.
If Britain is to hit the target it has set, it will need to more than double the current rate of donations from 5.1 million doses a month to 11.5 million, according to analysts.
Oxfam were appalled by the UK’s progress in this area.
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Shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth, said the government must “ensure that where we have surplus supplies, we are meeting our international responsibilities, not chucking vaccines in the skip”.
Nick Dearden, director of the campaign group Global Justice Now said: “Britain has donated shamefully few vaccine doses.
“And many of the quantity of doses we have given were on their expiry date.”