WASHINGTON — Since March 1, in the United States, at least 15.1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were thrown at a time when the world is undergoing a shortage of vaccines. This, in turn, is leading to deaths in emerging countries across the globe.

The action has been undertaken by the pharmacies and the state governments of the United States as they have thrown away a massive number of vaccines.

Four national pharmacy chains reported more than 1 million wasted doses each, in response to a public records request, as per the data released on Aug. 31 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walgreens reported the most waste of any pharmacy, state, or vaccine provider, with nearly 2.6 million wasted doses. CVS reported 2.3 million wasted doses, while Walmart reported 1.6 million and Rite Aid reported 1.1 million.

The data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is self-reported by pharmacies, states, and other vaccine providers. It is not comprehensive— missing some states and federal providers— and does not include why doses had to be thrown away.

“Tragically, we have a situation where vaccines are being wasted while lots of African countries have not had even 5 percent of their populations vaccinated,” said Sharifah Sekalala, an associate professor of global health law at the England’s University of Warwick who studies health care inequalities in infectious diseases to the local media.

But Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the portion of wasted doses “remains extremely low.”

“As the access to Covid-19 vaccine has increased, it is important for providers not to miss any opportunity to vaccinate every eligible person who presents at vaccine clinics, even if it may increase the likelihood of leaving unused doses in a vial,” said Nordlund.

While wealthy nations are inoculating their citizens at fast pacing rates and moving towards booster doses, poorer countries lagging drastically behind in the race to get vaccinated.

Many developing countries cannot afford the vaccines for their residents and looked to donations from more prosperous countries. Still, global initiatives have not been entirely successful in supplying shots to those who need them.

“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the number of manufactured vaccine doses that are not administered (wastage),” states a report by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

“However, this information is not currently available on the Covid-19 Data Tracker. A small amount of wastage is expected in any vaccination program.”

The World Health Organization asked world leaders again to hold off on administering Covid-19 boosters for at least another month to give poorer nations the chance to inoculate more of their populations with first doses.

More than 5 billion Covid-19 vaccine shots have been administered globally, with 75 percent of them distributed in just ten countries, as per the World Health Organization.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra

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