BRASILIA, July 2 (Reuters) – At least 26,000 out-of-date AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered in Brazil, newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported on Friday, citing Health Ministry data.
The report represents the latest blow to Brazil’s vaccine rollout, which has faced widespread criticism. The government was slow to buy vaccines, and is now dealing with an alleged corruption scandal surrounding its procurement efforts.
Expired vaccine doses can be less effective. In Africa, a number of countries have found themselves with batches that have passed their shelf life sparking a debate over extending expiry dates. Malawi destroyed in May nearly 20,000 doses which had expired.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has so far declined to take a vaccine and has sowed doubts about inoculations, pushed unproven miracle cures and underplayed the severity of a pandemic that has killed over a half a million Brazilians.
According to the report, the expired vaccines came from batches imported from India by the public Fiocruz biomedical institute, or acquired through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Neither the Health Ministry, Fiocruz nor PAHO immediately responded to requests for comment. The Serum Institute of India, which made the shots, also did not immediately reply.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the two dominant COVID-19 shots in Brazil, alongside China’s CoronaVac. (Reporting by Ricardo Brito; additional reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Aurora Ellis)
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