COVID-19 vaccines in stockpile to expire as demand declines

COVID-19 vaccines in stockpile to expire as demand declinesCOVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines currently being held in a national inventory have continued to expire since January.

More than 420,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax have hit the end of their shelf life on Tuesday, April 12th.

The government says this is a relatively new issue because dose deliveries were aligned with demand until late last year. However, uptake of vaccines has slowed even as governments and public health authorities urge people to get a first and second booster shot.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, issued urgent advice this week for younger adults and teens to get their third dose as the sixth wave of COVID-19 keeps growing. Some provinces are extending fourth doses to high-risk populations as well. Still, uptake is significantly lower than it has been, falling from a peak of 600,000 doses a day in June 2021, to 250,000 a day in January 2022.

Canada has only donated 15 million of the 38 million doses it promised to share from its own supplies, but demand for those has also fallen this year.

In a written statement, Health Canada said that it is working to manage doses to limit expirations, including donating when possible and working with manufacturers to see if expired doses can still be used safely.

Vaccine expiration dates have been revised multiple times in the last year by Health Canada, as the companies that make the vaccines were able to get better data on how long the vaccines remained viable.

Pfizer’s shelf life was extended from six months to nine months last summer, and Moderna’s from seven months to nine months in December.

Canada now has 18 million doses in its national stockpile and the vast majority will expire within the next four months. That includes 4,200 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that run out of time at the end of April, more than 900,000 doses of the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that expire in June, and 3.1 million doses from a recent shipment of the new vaccine from Novavax that expire at the end of August.

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