Millions of swine flu vaccine doses to be destroyed in the US
A whopping 40 million doses of swine flu vaccine worth about $260 million are being written off as trash.
“It’s a lot, by historical standards,” said Jerry Weir, who oversees vaccine research and review for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The expired vaccine will be burned up. The amount which is as much as four times the usual leftover seasonal flu vaccine will most probably set a record. And that’s not even all of it.
As per government estimate, almost 30 million more doses will expire later and may go unused. If all that vaccine expires, more than 43 percent of the supply for the U.S. public will have gone to waste.
Federal officials supported the huge procurement saying it is a necessary risk in the face of a never-before-seen virus. Many health experts had feared the new flu could be the deadly global epidemic they had long warned about, but it ended up killing fewer people than seasonal flu.
“Although there were many doses of vaccine that went unused, it was much more appropriate to have been prepared for the worst case scenario than to have had too few doses,” said Bill Hall, spokesman for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Most leading health experts generally agree with that. “We were faced with the first pandemic we’d had in 40 years. We had to ensure there would be enough vaccine for our nation,” said Dr. Mark Mulligan, an Emory University researcher who was involved in testing the vaccine.
Robert Blendon, a Harvard University professor who conducts polls on public health said that many average Americans also agreed on the same earlier this year. He said a Harvard poll in January found that 59 percent of Americans would prefer the flu vaccine be over-ordered to ensure enough was available. Even if this means that doses will be unused.
Millions of doses of flu vaccine go unused every year and are marked for burning. In recent years, however, the leftovers amounted to closer to 10 percent of the supply, rather than the 25 percent expiring now. Government flu experts couldn’t remember throwing away anything close to 40 million doses before.