Covid Scotland: Tenfold increase in vaccine wastage rate

The wastage rate of Covid-19 vaccines in Scotland has increased more than tenfold since April, new figures from Public Health Scotland have revealed.

In April, some 0.3 per cent of vaccine stock was wasted.

This figure increased to 2.5 per cent in July, and 3.2 per cent in September.

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In total over 60,000 doses have been thrown away since April. This figure does not include wastage at GP surgeries or in vaccine clinical trials.

A nurse prepares a dose of a Pfizer booster vaccine at a vaccination centre. Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The top reason for doses being discarded in September (46 per cent) was excess stock, meaning vaccinators coming to the end of a shift or job and having surplus vaccines, which cannot be used or returned to storage.

The second most common reason was doses expiring (44 per cent).

Some vaccine wastage is accepted as inevitable during a large-scale vaccine rollout, and the programme has so far kept below the Scottish Government target of 5 per cent wastage.

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But the government was unable to answer questions over why the rate has increased in the past five months.

In May, more than a million vaccine doses were administered, while 8,000 were wasted.

In September just 300,000 doses were given, while 10,000 were wasted.

A spokesperson said: “Given the scale of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, some vaccine wastage has been unavoidable for a variety of reasons, though it has remained below the 5 per cent planning assumption throughout.”

The spokesperson added: “The chief medical officer wrote to health boards about minimising waste and we continue to work with them to ensure wastage is at a minimum, and maximise the availability of vaccines to the people of Scotland. ”

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