Switzerland will destroy 9 million doses of Moderna (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine that have reached their expiry date, with another 5.1 million vaccine jabs set to meet the same fate by February, the government said on Wednesday.
The wastage reflects the Swiss strategy of ordering more vaccines than it needed to ensure its population of around 8.7 million would get sufficient supplies even in the event of supply bottlenecks or quality issues.
Other countries too have destroyed hundreds million of doses of expired vaccines.
“With this deliberately chosen strategy, it was accepted that too much vaccine would be procured and that some of the procured doses would have to be sold, passed on or possibly destroyed,” the cabinet said in a statement.
Since the end of 2020, Switzerland has got 31.9 million vaccine doses from Moderna and other suppliers, of which 16.1 million have been administered. Another 3.2 million were passed on to third countries, the government said.
Just under 70% of the population has had at least one shot in Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein, which is low compared to vaccination rates in many other Western European countries.
Authorities have reported 4.2 million COVID infections and nearly 13,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Not only Switzerland
Switzerland isn’t the first country to destroy doses that could have put to better use. Earlier this year, Canada destroyed nearly 14 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses because its population preferred one of the mRNA vaccines.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, like the Johnson and Johnson one, is still commonly administered in low- and middle-income countries, as it’s easier to store, only requires one dose, and is cheaper to manufacture.
This kind of waste is emblematic of wealthy nations hoarding doses during the pandemic, which is one of the main causes of vaccine inequality. Despite pledging a more equitable distribution and committing to sharing vaccine doses with low-income nations, rich countries have resorted to vaccine nationalism, securing all the vaccines they could get their hands on, even as large parts of the world struggled to get any doses at all.
The inequality was stark from the beginning. Early in the vaccination campaign, and before any doses had reached low-income nations, rich countries entered into agreements with vaccine makers to secure about 350% of the doses they needed, according to Unicef.
Now in the second year of vaccination, the discrepancy continues. While countries like the US and many European nations have made up to three boosters available to their citizens, only about 23% of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated against covid.
Prepare now! Stock up on Iodine tablets for the next nuclear disaster…
Overall, the African continent, home to most of the nations with the lowest vaccination rates, has received only about half the doses it would need to give its population the first full round of immunization.
Well, it’s only in our ‘rich’ countries that we have unprecedented death rates and that people start to drop dead like flies… This time, the ‘happy’ countries are the ‘poor’ countries. The West has become the totalitarian and dystopian part of the world… [Reuters, Quarz]