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About 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been refused by poor countries 

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The United Nations announced on Thursday that about 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were refused by poor countries, donated during the month of December, mainly because of their short shelf life. 

Last December, vivid images of Nigeria disposing of more than a million doses of AstraZeneca that had exploded highlighted the problem of high-income countries monopolizing vaccine supplies. The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken the opportunity to denounce the deadly moral shame of high-income countries that do it, then dump the doses near their expiry date, to poor countries. 

In October-November, 15 million doses donated by the European Union were rejected. 75 % of these were AstraZeneca injections with a shelf life of less than 10 weeks upon arrival. 

"We've had almost over 100 million doses that have been refused due to country capacity," Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF's supply division, told a European Parliament committee. 

The majority of refusals are due to the shelf life of the product.” She continued, pointing out that until they have a better shelf life, countries will continue to refuse vaccines and this is going to be a pressure point for them, especially when they want to reach populations. in hard to reach areas. 

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UNICEF uses its expertise in vaccine logistics to manage delivery flights for Covax, a global program set up to ensure the flow of doses to the countries most in need. 

Donations from the European Union account for a third of the doses delivered so far via Covax, Etleva Kadilli told lawmakers, noting that several countries were asking for deliveries to be delayed until after March, when they could better manage the pressure on the cold storage chain. 

According to Etleva Kadili, several major countries are coming back and asking for split shipments and want to push the doses to the next quarter. 

Covax is co-led by WHO, the Gavi vaccine alliance and CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Via UNICEF, it is about to deliver its billionth dose of vaccine. A tally by AFP says that globally, more than eight billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far in at least 219 countries. 

 149 doses per 100 people were injected in high-income countries and less than 9% in low-income countries. On December 29, the WHO announced that 92 of its 194 member states had missed their target of vaccinating 40 % of their population by the end of 2021, due to a combination of limited supply going to countries in low income and vaccines that are nearing expiry and without essential parts like syringes, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

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Sam Sarah Devilus
Journalist / Communicator / Bookstagramer.