Up to 3.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses are set to be binned in the UK after reaching their expiry date, a media report says.
A leaked memo last month revealed that tens of millions of jabs sent to hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies in the run-up to Christmas to fight Omicron had largely gone unused, the Daily Mail reported.
Now, National Health Service (NHS) sources say more than half of the doses sent to some clinics are still “sitting in fridges” amid falling demand for booster shots.
One well-placed official estimated up to 3.5 million doses are likely to be binned, based on stock counts in several English regions, the Health Service Journal reports.
And they accused officials of sending out jabs “way in excess of demand” in the race to boost the nation, leaving them struggling to fill appointments.
Pfizer jabs, which make up the bulk of booster shots, had their shelf-life extended from 31 to 45 days last month to allow more time for them to reach patients.
But even with this extension, sources say these are now set to pass their use-by date and be disposed of.
Recently, the expiry date for thawed Moderna jabs, also used in the rollout, was extended from 30 to 60 days, but it is feared these too could expire.
Britain purchased another 114 million Covid jabs when Omicron first hit in 2022 and 2023, which ministers said will help the country to “buy time” against variants.
The UK’s booster rollout is one of the best in Europe, outpacing other nations including France and Germany.