President Joe Biden and his administration have often talked about how important the COVID-19 vaccinations are, but as it turns out, Biden’s government hasn’t been as careful in handling the purportedly vital doses as one might assume from the rhetoric.
According to recently compiled data by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 82 million doses of COVID vaccines have been wasted since the vaccination campaign began in December 2020, Axios reported.
That is approximately 11 percent of all vaccines distributed by the federal government between Dec. 2020 and mid-May 2022 that ended up in the trash for a variety of reasons.
Staggering amount of wastage for doses of COVID-19 vaccine
The incredible amount of wastage of COVID vaccines was first reported Monday by NBC News, which seemed to assign blame for the wasted doses to local health departments, retail pharmacies, and state governments.
The outlet specifically named several major pharmacies and even a couple of states that reportedly had vaccine dose wastage above that national average of around 11 percent — in some cases ranging from roughly a quarter to nearly half of doses wasted.
Furthermore, the CDC’s estimate on the total number of wasted doses is likely an undercount, NBC noted, given that several states and companies did not provide fulsome data to the government agency on how many of the doses they received ended up administered or in the trash.
That said, the current estimate is substantially higher than what it was just three months ago in March when the Associated Press reported that the CDC estimated that around 65 million doses, or around 9.5 percent of all doses distributed, had gone unused and were wasted at that time.
Variety of reasons for wasted vaccine doses
One of the main reasons cited at that time for the significant wastage was the steady decline in demand from the American people to be vaccinated.
That reduced demand goes hand in hand with other potential reasons for why so many vaccine doses ended up trashed, according to Fox News.
Those other reasons include the fact that the doses have an exceptionally short shelf life with stringent storage requirements, which is compounded by the fact that the vaccine was typically distributed in large minimum order shipments of multi-dose vials.
What that means, in reality, is that, after a vial was opened to administer a single dose to somebody, the remainder of the doses in the vial had to be used within hours or be thrown away. Also shouldering some blame for the wastage were isolated incidents of power outages or broken freezers that caused the spoilage of stockpiled doses.
Of course, the monetary loss for these wasted doses falls on the taxpayers, whom neither Congress nor the White House seems to care about, so while there may be some official griping about the amount of wasted vaccine and some tinkering around the edges of distribution policies, little if anything of merit will actually be done to prevent additional wastage in the future.