Over $2bn wasted on unused Covid vaccines… as 13m Johnson & Johnson shots discarded

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More than $2 billion has been wasted on unused Covid vaccines throughout the pandemic, data suggests.

More than 300million doses of four brands of vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and Novavax – have been discarded or donated to other countries.

There are multiple reasons for the wastage, including vaccine hesitancy and overspending by the US Government.

Yet despite the figures and dwindling demand, the World Health Organization has called for new Covid shots to be developed for this winter that target mutated variants.

Overall, there have been 308,707,265 unused Covid vaccines, costing the US $2,268,256,118.81

Overall, there have been 308,707,265 unused Covid vaccines, costing the US $2,268,256,118.81 

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 596 million Pfizer Covid vaccines have been delivered to states up to May 11. That includes both the original Pfizer vaccine and the updated Omicron booster.

But only 404 million have actually been administered, leaving 192 million unaccounted for.

And 355 million Moderna vaccines were delivered, including the updated booster, but only 253 million were put into arms, leaving 102 million unused.

With federal purchases of Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines costing an average of $20.69 per dose, according to analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, this equates to $2 billion.

Some 12.5 million J&J doses were left over, plus 1.3 million Novavax Covid shots.

The J&J shots cost $10 a dose, while the Novavax ones cost $16 each, totaling $1.5 million on unused vaccines from both drugmakers.

Overall, there have been 309 million unused Covid vaccines, costing the US roughly $2.3 billion.

Jeffrey Lazarus, professor of global health at City University New York, told DailyMail.com: ‘During the peak of the Covid pandemic, wasted vaccines was a tragedy given how effectively they protected against severe symptoms and death. 

‘Such wastage demonstrated the lack of preparedness, coordination and effort the world made to ensure high vaccine rates everywhere. Today, vaccine wastage results from overproduction coupled with persistent vaccine hesitancy.’

Edmund Haislmaier, senior research fellow at the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health and Welfare Policy, told DailyMail.com: ‘As with flu vaccines, if manufacturers and governments significantly over-estimate demand, the result can be large quantities of unused vaccines.’

The CDC told NBC News in June last year that between December 2020 and mid-May 2022, 82.1 million Covid vaccine doses were discarded by American pharmacies, states, territories and federal agencies. 

Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have an expiry date of 18 months.

But there are other reasons for discarding doses. A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine often includes five to six doses, while a Moderna vaccine vial includes up to ten.

Sometimes, a new vial is opened to vaccinated one person, but if no one else is ready to receive the remaining doses then the rest of the vial must be discarded.

But vaccine hesitancy has become increasingly prevalent in the US.

Seventy percent of Americans — or 230million people — got both doses of the original Covid vaccine, CDC data shows.

But just 17 percent of eligible Americans — or 56million people — have come forward for the updated bivalent booster vaccine.

A CDC-run survey found the main reasons people are not getting the bivalent booster was because of ‘perceived immunity’ against the virus alongside confusion over whether they were eligible.

A team of economists, public policy researchers and other experts from the University of Southern California used economic modeling to estimate the pandemic's financial toll on the nation

A team of economists, public policy researchers and other experts from the University of Southern California used economic modeling to estimate the pandemic’s financial toll on the nation

The WHO said in March that healthy children and teenagers do not need a Covid vaccine and amid falling uptake of updated shots. 

Waste has become a theme when looking back at the pandemic response in the US.

This week, DailyMail.com reported how a team of economists, public policy researchers and other experts from the University of Southern California found Covid has cost the US economy $14 trillion – and counting.

The pandemic, which triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns and upended the global economy, killed more than 1.1 million Americans and hospitalized many more.

The researchers said the pandemic’s economic effects were ‘unprecedented’ for the US.

Using data from the first two and a half years of the pandemic, the researchers forecasted the scale of Covid monetary losses from January 2020 to December 2023.

They approximated the revenue lost due to forced business closures and also considered the economic burden of alterations in behavior including steering clear of restaurants, theaters and other busy spots.

Work absences and sales lost due to the stopping of shopping done on foot, flights abroad and public gatherings had the most impact.

The sectors that were the worst hit were air travel companies, which decreased by 58 percent, dining, which dropped 27 percent and health and social services, which went down 30 percent.

Luckily, a skyrocketing of online purchases, financial relief packages from the government and the transition to working from home maintained some economic activity.

Between 2020 and 2023, the cumulative net economic output of the US will total roughly $103 trillion.

If Covid had not happened, the total of GDP over those four years would have been $117 trillion.

The toll on America’s GDP is double the size of the impact of the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009.

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