COVID-19: More than 8 million doses have expired or are at risk of expiring | EC Data Report | Coronavirus | Vaccines | vaccination | Minsa | PERU

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According to the reports, the doses were no longer suitable in health posts, centers, networks, and addresses in Lima, Tacna, San Martín, and Madre de Dios, due to alleged irregularities by various officials, especially the National Center for the Supply of Strategic Resources (Cenares) —the unit in charge of receiving, storing, and distributing medical resources— and the Ministry of Health (Minsa).

In most cases, the wasted vaccines were from the laboratory AstraZeneca and they were destined for regions. According to the comptroller’s office, the delay in scheduling their distribution by Minsa officials led to the vaccines being delivered a few days after their expiration date, which caused the health establishments to not be able to apply them on time and the staff had to report your leave.

In November 2021, a total of 120 workers at the Carlos Lanfranco La Hoz hospital in Puente Piedra were vaccinated with doses of Pfizer that should have been thrown away because their shelf life — the time in which the vaccine can be administered after being thawed — had expired. According to the comptroller, the doses could be used, at the latest, on November 8. However, they continued to be applied to hospital personnel until 36 days after that date, when they were no longer suitable for application in humans.

In addition, in March 2022, it was confirmed that 81 vials of said group of vaccines were still in the hospital.

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In total, the comptroller’s office has detected responsibility for these events in around 14 officials. Economic losses are valued at S/ 389,050.

At risk

On the other hand, according to the comptroller’s reports, a total of 8’188,230 doses would be at risk of expiration due to alleged irregularities by officials, especially Cenares. These vaccines, which should be distributed nationwide, will begin to expire on January 31.

For Wilder Díaz, director of the Medical College of Peru, the mismanagement of vaccines has to do, in part, with the high turnover of Ministers of Health and the lack of suitability of the authorities of the sector in general. Along the same lines, the former Minister of Health, Fernando Carbone, pointed out that the loss of doses responds to the “inefficiency and inability” of the officials in charge. “Having placed people who had no experience has generated this problem. It is unfortunate that vaccines are being lost, because they have cost all Peruvians,” he said.

The former minister also argued that placing an expired or improperly handled vaccine in the cold chain “generates false security in the vaccinated, who believes they are protected when they are not.”

Díaz added that, despite the fact that mortality rates from the COVID-19 have been considerably reduced —precisely because of progress in vaccination—, the authorities must ensure that inoculation continues.

The strains keep appearing, so the vaccine is going to have to become part of the national vaccination program. The virus is here to stay”, he argues.

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El Comercio consulted the Minsa for the expired doses and those at risk. Given this, the entity limited itself to pointing out that the dose distributions are made according to the table sent by the General Directorate of Strategic Public Health Interventions (Digiesp), through the Immunization Directorate. “If it is at the level of Metropolitan Lima, it is carried out in 24 hours and in regions from 3 to 7 calendar days, depending on the availability of solidarity flights from the commercial lines of Latam and Atsa,” the entity replied.

missed dose

In December 2022, the Minister of Health, rose gutierrezpointed out that the first batch of the bivalent vaccine of Pfizer it would arrive in January 2023. However, it was later learned – through a report from the comptroller – that a batch of 432,000 doses had already arrived in November.

ECData agreed to a second control report from December, which states that by then there were already 512,000 doses of this vaccine stored. Of these, around 185,000 were in boxes with dry ice due to lack of space to refrigerate them. In dialogue with El Comercio, the Cenares noted that these vaccines have already been distributed.

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