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Germany Dumps 3.9 Million Vaccines

Germany has thrown out 3.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines between the beginning of December 2021 and the end of June 2022.

The number came from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health, in response to a parliamentary question from CSU member of the Bundestag, Stephan Pilsinger. 

The vaccines were destroyed because they had expired.

Already in April, the Ministry of Health suspected that millions of vaccines in storage would not be used before they expired. The AP reported that the ministry had originally feared as many as 10 million doses would have to be thrown out, until it emerged that the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine can be stored for longer than initially thought, downgrading the estimated waste to 3 million doses.  

The vast overstock came from a purchase made by Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach. When he arrived at his post in December 2021, the country was at the height of its vaccine booster campaign. The overall vaccination rate in Germany at the time stood at 70%, and 26% of the population had already received a booster shot to complement the first two doses, but the government wasn’t satisfied. It had set an initial vaccination rate goal of 75% and also wanted to see more people get a booster shot. For its offensive campaign it decided it needed more doses, and ordered 92 million doses of vaccine, taking 2.2 billion euros out of the national budget for the purchase.  

In December, COVID-19 vaccines were being administered at a rate of up to a million a day, but by April it had slowed to a mere 33,000 jabs per day on average, according to the AP. 

Donation programs to give doses away to poorer countries were also not accepting vaccines.

Europe is gearing up for another booster campaign in the fall, but new vaccines designed to target the new strains dominant in the population could be approved by then, making remaining stored doses irrelevant, if they haven’t already expired.  

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.

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