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Belgium to destroy 3.5 million expired coronavirus vaccine doses

15:30 25/07/2023

Some 3.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in Belgium must be destroyed, according to the federal health ministry, which is in charge of managing stocks of vaccines in the country.

This is because they have expired, are damaged or are considered unusable.

The 3.5 million doses to be disposed of represents 6.45% of all doses supplied to Belgium so far – which is a total of 54.3 million with a value of €80.2 million.

Destruction of those vaccines purchased in 2021 and 2022 will reportedly take place in all EU member states.

But, in Belgium, given the relatively high vaccination coverage, the number to be destroyed is lower than in most other EU countries, according to the health ministry.

According to the World Health Organisation, there have been, to date, just under 35,000 deaths due to coronavirus out of a total of 4.8 million cases in Belgium.

At the start of the pandemic, Belgium was said to have one of the worst death rates due to the virus.

Belgium participated in a European-wide group purchase of coronavirus vaccines. This was the result of an agreement concluded between the European Commission and several leading pharmaceutical companies - Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen and Novavax.

In doing so, the public risk was minimised and Belgium was able to ensure it would have a sufficient number of vaccines for its citizens.

Several of the vaccines deployed at the time were highly effective, resulting in a surplus. The pandemic has since evolved and, to date, the seriousness of coronavirus has substantially declined.

Currently, vaccination is, therefore, only strongly recommended for those groups only deemed to be most at risk - such as the elderly.

As well as vaccines, other related products will have to be destroyed such as tests and reagents as well as equipment that did not meet the necessary health standards, including some masks.

The value of all the stock to be destroyed amounts to some €131 million.

Written by Martin Banks