South Sudan’s ministry of health says it is planning to dispose of the expired 60,000 doses of African Union and MTN partnership donated vaccines this week.
The 60,000 doses are the second consignment South Sudan received from the African Union last month.
The government says it is currently using the 132,000 doses of the first batch of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines obtained directly from the COVAX facility last month. The vaccine doses are also expected to expire in July this year.
A few days ago, South Sudan’s Drugs and Food Control Authority (DFCA) announced that the AU and MTN donated vaccines had expired in the cold chain before use. It says the 60,000 vaccine doses had a safe life of only 14 days when they arrived in the country.
The government says discussions are ongoing with the African Union and MTN officials regarding the matter.
Speaking to journalists during the Covid-19 weekly press briefing on Sunday, the Covid-19 Incident Manager in South Sudan, Dr. Richard Laku said the health ministry is not using the 60,000 doses of expired vaccines.
“The Drug and Food Control Authority already laid the policy which we as the ministry have to abide with. And now engagement with the African Union and the other people is to see how we deal with this. Is not something that is going to be used, nobody is going to use it. We have so many drugs that were donated, and we have not used them, and this one we are going to deal with,” Dr. Laku said.
Dr. Laku further said the expired vaccines will be burned during the course of this week.
“The DFCA and the central medical store and the directorate of pharmaceuticals is already having a mechanism of dealing with this. So it is a process that is going on. What we want you to know is this vaccine that we said is expired, is expired and it is already locked somewhere and it will be dealt with,” he stressed. “When is as soon as possible, we want that thing to be happening even tomorrow (today) or next tomorrow. So is a process that we are dealing with, but we are also going ahead with this vaccination.”
The 60,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines from the AU and MTN partnership expired on the 13th of this month according to government authorities.
Speaking at the same press briefing, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative in South Sudan, Dr. Fabian Ndenzako said they are ready to support the government to discard the expired vaccines.
“For WHO, we do have a policy on how to dispose of hazards. And of course in many countries that we are in, countries have also competent national regulatory authorities of which also have expertise on exposing this hazard. So, we usually work with the national authorities and when they wish to get extra technical support, they usually come to us when that requirement is needed,” Dr. Ndenzako said.
As of Sunday, yesterday, South Sudan has 114 cumulative deaths and 10,215 recoveries since the pandemic was confirmed in the country last year.