South Africa received over one million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on Monday last week and they have discovered the vaccines expire in three months time, not six as thought.
This was only picked up when they arrived in South Africa from India.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was meant to be rolled out by Wednesday to healthcare workers but with the scientists still conducting further studies on the new aggressive variant, the rollout of AstraZeneca has been put on hold.
Speaking on the vaccine, Health department deputy director-general Anban Pillay said:
Look, the expiry date on the vaccines ordinarily are six months. These vaccines just have a six-month expiry date.
Unfortunately, these vaccines came through with an expiry date in April, which we only identified upon arrival.
He said South Africa was now speaking to the Serum Institute of India “for an extension of the date, if that’s possible” adding that another alternatively the country was pursuing was seeking an exchange of the stock “so that we can have vaccines with a long expiry”.
On Sunday night, Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the vaccine rollout was put on hold because of findings that the AstraZeneca vaccine was not effective against mild and moderate Covid-19 infection from the B. 1.351 variant.