About one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were estimated to have expired in Nigeria last month without being used.
This has contributed to the loss of doses, despite the difficulty of African countries in getting vaccination for much of their populations.
According to Reuters, African governments have been pushing for more vaccine deliveries as the Omicron coronavirus now spreads across South Africa.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, revealed that fewer than 4% of adults have been fully vaccinated in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country.
It was further learnt that the expired doses were made by AstraZeneca and delivered from Europe.
A sources with direct knowledge of vaccine delivery told journalists.
They were supplied via COVAX, the dose-sharing facility led by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO which is increasingly reliant on donations.
Another source with knowledge of the delivery added that some of the doses arrived within four to six weeks of expiry and could not be used in time, despite efforts by health authorities.
The sources said a count of the expired doses was still underway and an official number was yet to be finalised.
“Nigeria is doing everything it can. But it’s struggling with short shelf life vaccines. Now (supply is) unpredictable and they’re sending too much,” a source stated.
The spokesperson for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the body responsible for vaccinations in Nigeria, said the number of vaccines received and used was still being tallied and it would share its findings in the coming days.
The WHO said doses had expired, but declined to give a figure.
It said 800,000 additional doses that had been at risk of expiry in October were all used in time.
“Vaccine wastage is to be expected in any immunization programme, and in the context of COVID-19 deployment is a global phenomenon,” the WHO said in a statement.
Nigeria’s vaccine loss appears to be one of the largest of its kind over such a short time period, even outstripping the total number of vaccines that some other countries in the region have received.
The Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib once told journalists at a press briefing in Abuja that some doses of Astrazeneca vaccine donated by the UK government would expire in September and October.
Faisal had also assured that the government would make use of the vaccines before the expiration.