The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is still effective three months after the expiry date.
Dr Yonas Woldemariam, the WHO country representative, said research has showed that the vaccine has more lifespan than what is indicated on the bottle (Vial).
“I know the question of expiry date of the vaccine has come forward. One of the issues about this vaccine is that it is new and every day we learn. If you remember a few years back, we used to say the yellow fever vaccine only works for 10 years and now we say it is forever. The same way, science is telling us that at least the vaccine has an additional three months lifespan,” Dr Woldemariam said yesterday during an engagement meeting with the leadership of health professionals on Covid-19 vaccination.
Recently, some African countries such as South Sudan and Malawi indicated that they would destroy more than 70,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab because they expired in mid-April.
Uganda received 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Covax global sharing initiative and a donation from the Indian government in March. However, the uptake of the vaccine has been low.
A total of 276,306 people had received their first Covid-19 jab as of yesterday.
Officials at the Ministry of Health said the vaccines are due to expire by July. But Dr Woldemariam said the focus should be on drumming up support for more people to get vaccinated given the emergence of dangerous variants.
“The more this virus is circulating, the more danger we have of the variants. I am more worried about people who are not vaccinated,” he said.