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Indonesia seeks longer shelf life donations as 19 million COVID shots expired – Metro US

Indonesia seeks longer shelf life donations as 19 million COVID shots expired

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a kindergarten in Jakarta

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Nineteen million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia’s national stockpile have expired this year and 1.5 million more are set to expire next month, as donated shots arrive with a short shelf life, a health official said on Wednesday.

Indonesia and many other developing nations are ramping up their vaccination campaign, aided by donations from wealthy countries, but they have been calling for donations with a longer shelf life.

Lucia Rizka Andalusia, a senior health ministry official, told a parliamentary hearing that of the 19.3 million doses that expired between January and March, 97% were donated.

Most of the expired doses were AstraZeneca’s shot, and they also included Moderna’s, she said. Indonesia receives donations from the COVAX global vaccine sharing scheme and countries such as Australia and the United States.

I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, a foreign ministry official, told the same hearing the country will stop receiving donations until April and tell donating countries that the vaccines donated must carry at least two-thirds of the shelf life.

The GAVI vaccine alliance, which runs COVAX with the World Health Organization, told Reuters that COVAX “only ships doses that have been accepted by countries with full knowledge of vaccine type, estimated shipment plan and vaccine shelf life”.

Once released for donation, AstraZeneca said in an email its shots are not managed by the company and are subject to “complex administrative and logistical steps”.

The majority of its shots supplied worldwide have at least 2-1/2 months left before they expire, but the company is collecting and analysing data across its manufacturing network for a possible extension of the shelf life, it said.

Indonesia’s food and drug agency said this month that it extended the expiry dates of several vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s and Sinovac’s, after reviewing new available data about their efficacy.

Indonesia would prioritise the distribution of vaccines nearing expiry, health ministry official Rizka said.

Poorer nations rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by COVAX in December, mainly because of a rapidly approaching expiry date, a UNICEF official said.

Reuters reported in February that the relatively short shelf life of AstraZeneca’s vaccine — six months — has complicated the rollout to the world’s poorest nations including some in Africa.

The company said on Wednesday it has supplied over 100 million doses to Indonesia.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Barbara Lewis, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Ed Osmond)

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