Millions of Covid vaccines poised to go into the BIN as more than 99 per cent of one brand remains untouched and experts whip up wealthy Australia’s ‘ridiculous’ stockpile
- More than 195 million Covid doses sit unused in Australia’s stockpiles
- Less than a quarter of the 255 million the government bought was used here
- About 40 million doses were donated to countries in the Indo-Pacific region
- Residual doses could become obsolete as variant-specific vaccinations boost production
- Novavax was largely avoided by people, with less than one percent taking it up
Tens of millions of Covid vaccines could be thrown in the trash in the coming months as Australia’s massive stockpile nears its sell-by date – and the country has no country or company to hand them over to.
The federal government bought 255 million vaccines at the height of the Covid pandemic, of which less than a quarter – 60 million – were used.
Australia donated with the help of UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) to distribute the cans.
Novavaxthe latest Covid vaccine offered to Australians after it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in January has been largely avoided by people, with 99 per cent of the Government’s order untouched.
Around 162,000 Novavax doses have been administered in Australia – compared to the 51 million the government has ordered.
Australia (pictured, Sydneysiders out and about in Bondi last year) has a glut of Covid vaccine doses after the federal government secured a huge supply in case some of the brands didn’t work
Novavax was not adopted by the Australians as 99 per cent of cans (pictured) went unused
Critics have questioned why Australia and other wealthy nations have ordered a glut of vaccines.
Public health expert Deborah Gleeson (pictured) said Australia was one of many wealthy countries that had overfilled their Covid doses and are now struggling with a vaccine oversupply
Public health expert Deborah Gleeson, of La Trobe University, said the alphabet the country’s purchases were excessive.
“Australia really participated in a larger trend that we’ve seen around the world, with wealthy countries buying far more doses of COVID-19 vaccine than they needed at the start of the pandemic,” Prof Gleeson said.
“And that’s a practice that has unfortunately continued.”
Australia’s vast vaccine stocks could also soon become obsolete as drug companies and biotech labs ramp up production and clinical trials of variant-specific vaccines.
Federal Health Secretary Mark Butler ordered a review of Australia’s vaccine agreements in hopes of finding out what to do with the oversupply.
“If it turns out we have a surplus, I want to have a number of options in front of us about what to do with the surplus vaccine that we were contractually obligated to take,” Butler said.
Health Secretary Mark Butler (pictured) announced a review of vaccine agreements last month
Fears about what’s left could become obsolete as the new ongoing variant-specific vaccines boost production in Australia and globally
In an interview with 3AW on July 6, Mr Butler said Australia naturally had lower demand for Covid vaccines.
“We don’t have to vaccinate 200,000 people a day across the country like we did at the peak in the middle of last year because we’re so far behind,” he said.
“We were really way behind the rest of the developed world. It took us a while to catch up. Now you see a much smaller number of vaccinations being delivered each day.
“The real challenge is getting people to queue to get it. There are more than five million people who are past due for their third dose, so it has been more than six months since they received their second dose. Your third dose is still overdue and I encourage you to go out and get it.’
The dose glut comes a year after the federal government built up vaccine reserves to ensure there are enough left if certain ones fail at the height of the pandemic.
Covid can glut in Australia
Australia used about 25 per cent of AstraZeneca’s 53.8 million Covid doses, with about 13,807,000 vaccinations administered.
Pfizer was more popular with about 41,699,000 doses distributed out of the 126 million sold – 33 percent of the brand’s supply.
Australia bought 25 million Moderna vaccines, of which only about 18 percent were used – 4,612,000 vaccines.
The federal government also ordered 51 million Novavax vaccines, but only about 162,000 — less than 1 percent of the available ones — have been used in weapons.
Source: Australian Immunization Registry