States throwing out tens of thousands of unused COVID-19 shots

Though only 1 percent of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide have made it to low-income countries, some U.S. states are throwing out tens of thousands of unused doses, NPR reported Aug. 10. 

Alabama threw away 65,000 doses recently, and last month Arkansas threw out 80,000, according to NPR

There are millions of COVID-19 shots in the U.S. that are at risk of spoiling, but a combination of logistical challenges and red tape make it very hard for them to get to the countries that need them, NPR reported. 

States aren't allowed to bypass the federal government and send leftover shots directly to the countries that need them. Govind Persad, PhD, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, told NPR the government could grant states permission to do so. 

Moving doses at risk of expiration is complicated, as the vaccines have to be stored at specific temperatures. 

Shipping the extra doses to other countries also faces legal challenges, such as concerns among the vaccine makers about liability if their vaccines cause harm in another country, NPR reported. The Trump administration also signed contracts with drugmakers that appear to use some language restricting the use of vaccines abroad. 

"Most of us have come to realize, once it's out in the states, and particularly if it's been distributed to local communities, pulling it all back is kind of asking for some error or problem. The only option is to get people to take it here," Marcus Plescia, MD, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told NPR

States have stopped asking for new shipments of vaccines, making sure the pile of unused doses doesn't get any larger. 

Read the full article here.


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