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More Than 17 Million COVID Vaccine Doses Expired, Public Health Agency Reports

Over 17,300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses procured by the federal government have expired, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The figure was revealed in response to an Inquiry of Ministry by Conservative MP Kelly Block on April 25, in which she asked how many COVID-19 vaccine doses procured by the federal government had been lost, stolen, expired, or had broken down.

According to the information supplied by PHAC, a total of 11,023,365 Moderna doses, 6,301,270 Novaxax, 28,652 Pfizer, and 3,900 AstraZeneca doses expired before they could be used.

An additional 13,626,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s viral vector vaccine—which were to be donated to other countries through GAVI-COVAX—expired offshore while in the manufacturer’s possession, awaiting the confirmation of a recipient country.

No COVID-19 doses procured by the government had been reported as stolen as of April 25, PHAC said.

In one incident, on July 12, 2022, the province of Ontario reported a shortage of one vial of Pfizer adult vaccine, containing 6 doses, during a delivery to a Shopper’s Drug Mart. Innomar Strategies said the original tray was sealed and the vial was missing from the manufacturer’s packaging. The province accepted Innomar’s explanation, and no action was taken to replace the missing vial.

Auditor General Warns of Waste

In December 2022, a report from the Auditor General of Canada found that tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines were likely to soon expire due to a failure to manage an oversupply, which would cost taxpayers an estimated $1 billion.

“We found that the PHAC was unsuccessful in its efforts to minimize vaccine wastage,” said Auditor General Karen Hogan.

The report said that out of the 169 million COVID-19 vaccine doses secured, a total of 84.1 million injections were given to Canadians, while 15.3 million were donated to other countries. But it also found that over 13.6 million doses expired awaiting donation to other countries, 21.7 million were awaiting donation to other countries and could soon expire, and another 29.7 million were sitting unused in federal, provincial, and territorial inventories.

The report noted that delays in implementing the PHAC’s information technology system to track the distribution and use of vaccine doses made managing vaccine inventories more difficult.

“Although some provinces and territories consistently reported to the agency, the agency was unable to obtain complete data from most,” said the report.

“This meant that the status of these doses was unknown and reduced the agency’s ability to predict supply needs and plan for donations.”

Additionally, after the pandemic began in 2020,vaccine doses were wasted because the PHAC had not finalized agreements with the provinces and territories to determine what public health surveillance information to share, and how best to implement it.

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