Department of Health to dispose around 80 000 Pfizer vaccine doses

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The Department of Health says around 80 000 Pfizer vaccine doses are to be disposed of at the end of March, once they reach their expiration dates.

The Department has raised concerns that COVID-19 vaccines are being wasted due to the low number of people presenting for vaccinations.

The Department’s Acting Director-General, Dr Nicholas Crisp, was speaking during a media briefing.

“We will lose somewhere around 80 000 doses. Every dose is a lost opportunity. Remember this is 80 000 out of 33-million. So we are not talking vast amounts, but every dose is a lost opportunity to protect somebody from this, so we are not happy,” says Crisp.

Last week,  health expert Dr Fundile Nyati sought to allay fears over the potential side effects of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Nyati says the vaccine remains safe and effective.

 Video |  SAHPRA allays fears around safety of COVID-19 vaccines: Dr Nyati

Calling for calm, he also said the Pfizer vaccine can have side effects like any other medication.

“I think it is very important for people to understand that 1291 are adverse effects out of millions of people, especially in the United States and Europe, who have been taking this vaccine including us in South Africa,” says Nyati.

“So it is important to contextualise and not just look at the line items. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) did come out and say it is less than a percent of these adverse effects that are listed here that were very serious. Otherwise, 96% of them were mild and people were able to recover,” adds Nyati.

South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) recently announced that it is investigating data released by a US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) report indicating that Pfizer’s vaccine has over 1200 side effects, which were not disclosed to the public until last week.

The FDA says only 1% of the over 1000 side effects are serious.