$680 million for expired doses: millions of anti-COVID vaccines in the trash

$680M for expired doses: millions of COVID vaccines to the trash

MISE À DAY

At least 32 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been wasted or are about to be wasted in the country. A loss that represents $680 million, according to the compilation made by our Bureau of Investigation.

In the vast majority of cases, these are expired doses that could not be used in time.

The federal government alone disposed of 22.5 million expired doses, which it kept in its central stockpile.

The provinces, for their part, threw away at least 5.3 million doses, including 1.13 million by Quebec. These are partial data, since some provinces, such as Ontario, have refused to disclose their losses.

Add to this table 4.5 million doses about to expire, overwhelmed by the arrival this fall of the new bivalent vaccine, effective against the Omicron variant.

Massive orders

For the virologist and professor of the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) Benoît Barbeau, these significant losses are the consequence of massive vaccine orders placed by Ottawa. 

“The government over-ordered [vaccines], especially after the first and second doses were administered,” he explains.

According to him, we knew then that the virus was in danger of mutating and that newer versions of the vaccines would become available, such as the bivalent vaccine launched this fall.

“There was then an adjustment [in the orders] that would have had to be made,” he argues.< /p>

Recall that at the end of 2020, the Trudeau government had placed purchase options for 358 million doses of vaccine, or 9.5 doses per Canadian. 

Canada has not bought all those doses, but it was the country in the world that took the most vaccine purchase options per capita.

  • Don't miss the broadcast by Richard Martineau, every day at 8:30 a.m., live or via podcast on QUB radio:  

Exceptional< /strong>

Professor Barbeau nevertheless points out that the COVID-19 pandemic remains an exceptional event.

“It is better, very unfortunately, in these moments, to go in this direction [by buying too many vaccines] than in the other direction”, he affirms.

However, there remains that the costs of these vaccine losses will be major. We estimate that the bill will reach at least $680 million. 

This figure is calculated from the number of doses discarded and the unit price per dose paid by Ottawa, obtained from various sources by The Journal last spring.

When asked about this, Health Canada refused to disclose the price paid per dose to major international manufacturers, citing the fact that it is “confidential commercial information”.  

< p>Vaccines destroyed 

  • Alberta: 2.1M
  • Manitoba: 75,000
  • Federal Reserve: 22.5 M
  • Saskatchewan: 348,000
  • Quebec: 1 .13 M
  • British Columbia: 1.6 M 

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada, Ministries of Health of Quebec and British Columbia, Global News. Data for other provinces is not available.

  • Don't miss the broadcast of Benot Dutrizac, daily at 11:00 a.m., live or as a podcast on QUB radio: 

Avoidable losses with overseas donations 

It is clear to Doctors Without Borders and the opposition to the Commons that some of this waste of vaccines could have been avoided.

The solution would have been to send more doses and more quickly to disadvantaged countries that were in dire need of vaccines when they became available.

“The Trudeau government spoke out of both sides of its mouth in this case,” says Adam Houston, in charge of advocacy and medical policy at Doctors Without Borders Canada.

At the start of the pandemic, in the summer of 2020, Justin Trudeau had nevertheless presented himself as an ardent defender of the international vaccine exchange mechanism, called COVAX.

Well stocked reserves

However, Houston recalls, it took a year, in July 2021, when Ottawa had well-stocked supplies, enough to administer the vaccination twice to every Canadian, to start sending doses overseas. .

Pierre Paul-Hus. Conservative Party of Canada

And again, it was AstraZeneca vaccines that were about to expire and no longer wanted in Canada because of their side effects. 

A large number of these vaccines, 13.6 million doses in total, had to be destroyed for lack of takers abroad.

For Mr. Houston, management focused on sending faster and more effective vaccines overseas could have reduced the waste that has occurred in Canada.

Unthinkable

The Conservative Party to Ottawa shares this view. 

“It is unthinkable that so many COVID-19 vaccines that could have benefited other countries with lower vaccination rates should have been thrown away,” said MP Pierre Paul-Hus, the party's political lieutenant for Quebec.

In his opinion, this is “another example of our government's poor planning and management federal.”

Do you have a scoop for us?

Do you have something to tell us about this story?

Do you have a scoop that our readers might be interested in?

Email us at or call us directly at 1 800-63SCOOP.