Switzerland will destroy 9 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that have reached their expiry date, with another 5.1 million vaccine jabs set to meet the same fate by February, the government said on Wednesday.
Since the end of 2020, Switzerland has got 31.9 million vaccine doses from Moderna and other suppliers, of which 16.1 million have been administered. Another 3.2 million were passed on to third countries, the government said.
Switzerland as of June had an excess of about 38 million doses of several types of COVID-19 vaccines that would expire by the end of 2022, according to an estimate in July by the Swissinfo news website.
Just under 70 percent of the population has had at least one shot in Switzerland and its tiny neighbor Liechtenstein. Authorities have reported 4.2 million COVID-19 infections and nearly 13,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
A number of countries, including the United States, have destroyed or discarded COVID-19 vaccines since they were rolled out in late 2020.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in June to news outlets that U.S. states, pharmacies, territories, and federal agencies have discarded some 82 million COVID-19 vaccines between December 2020 and May of this year. Walmart and CVS pharmacies were responsible for more than one-fourth of vaccine doses that were discarded across the United States, the agency said.
Vaccine "vials have a very limited shelf life, which unfortunately means unused vaccine will be disposed of," CVS told NBC News at the time, noting that "the same challenge is faced by others administering vaccinations.”
“Today’s report shows that Emergent profited from the pandemic while violating the public’s trust,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in a statement. “Despite major red flags at its vaccine manufacturing facility, Emergent’s executives swept these problems under the rug and continued to rake in taxpayer dollars.”
A spokesperson for Emergent denied her claims, saying the firm was "transparent with our public and private partners about our process and capabilities."