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Lilongwe Burns Expired Vaccines

Health authorities in Malawi have incinerated 19,610 expired doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, saying it will reassure the public that any vaccines they do get are safe. It is the first African country to publicly do this. The World Health Organization initially urged countries not to destroy expired doses but has now changed its advice. Uptake of the vaccine in Malawi has been low and health workers hope the move will increase public confidence. Out of a population of about 18 million people, the country has recorded 34,232 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,153 deaths. Malawi received 102,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine it acquired from the African Union on 26 March and used almost 80% of them. But the expiry date on the labels was 13 April and officials say this wasn’t enough time to use them all. So in a 30-minute process, officials destroyed thousands of Covid-19 vaccines, leaving behind just broken pieces of the vials holding the liquid. The government says it has adequate stocks of vaccines and has urged everyone over 18 years old to get a jab. In addition to the 102,000 from the African Union, it has received 300,000 doses under the Covax vaccine-sharing facility and 50,000 sourced direct from India.