Most of 11mln doses of the AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) COVID-19 vaccine due to be shipped to the Netherlands will go unused, it has been revealed.
Jaap van Deldon, head of the vaccination department of the country’s public health institute, told AD newspaper the supplies won’t be needed because the government has restricted its use due to concerns over rare blood clots.
It is currently only being administered to people aged 60 to 64 and 1.5mln doses have been distributed.
“But at some point it is of course true that we are done with AstraZeneca. That moment will come a bit faster than expected, because Pfizer has started to deliver more. We estimate that we will largely no longer need the AstraZeneca deliveries that we will receive from the second half of May,” he was reported as saying.
“The idea has always been: we buy more vaccines than we need, because vaccines could fail. If Europe is left with vaccines, they could be distributed to less wealthy countries. And maybe you could save some for later.”
The country has had a chaotic rollout of the inoculation, first developed by Oxford University, as it was first halted, then allowed, then restricted again.
The National General Practitioners Association LHV in the Netherlands stressed it is important that people take the AstraZeneca jab if they are offered one.
“The policy changes surrounding this vaccine are making it more difficult for doctors to ensure high turnout [for the vaccination]’ the organisation said. ‘This is absolutely not helping,” the association told DutchNews.
“As far as we are concerned it is clear: if the choice is AstraZeneca now or possibly another vaccine later, then the choice should absolutely be for AstraZeneca now.”
Valneva seeks volunteers
Meanwhile, Valneva is seeking 4,000 volunteers for a late-stage trial on its COVID-19 vaccine.
The study will run from 20 sites in England and two hospitals in Scotland.
If the results are positive, the French firm targets approval for the summer, which could potentially pave the way for booster shots in the autumn.
Earlier this month it published results of the phase I/II study, where more than 90% of all study participants developed significant levels of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein.
As of this week, England has extended the vaccine rollout to 44-year-olds, after over 46mln people were given at least the first dose.