1 million expired doses get three-month extension
At least a million doses of expired Pfizer vaccine will have their shelf lives extended by a further three months following recommendations by their German manufacturers, BioNTech.
In the memo sent to Heads of Departments on Wednesday, the Ministry ordered that vaccines which expired at the end of July be extended 31 October.
Additionally, the pediatric (for children) Pfizer vaccines due to expire at the end of September will still be used until the end of the year.
Responding to a questionnaire sent by The Voice, MoH revealed they have Pfizer vaccines batches which the manufacturer had indicated would expire in June and July 2022, respectively.
However, following continued observation of performance and behaviour of the vaccine properties, BioNTech took the decision to extend the expiry dates of the two vaccine batches by three months.
“This was communicated to all countries that bought those two batches, including Botswana,” said the Ministry’s spokesperson Dr. Christopher Nyanga.
He said after conducting its own due diligence, including getting approval from the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BoMRA), the Ministry communicated the decision to extend the shelf life of the concerned batches to all its facilities across the country.
Nyanga stressed this is not the first time that vaccines, or any medicines for that matter, have had their shelf life extended at the request of the manufacturer.
“Some batches of Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccines previously had their shelf lives extended, in Botswana and elsewhere across the world,” he said.
He further said the decision to extend the shelf life of vaccines or any medications or products at the request of the manufacturer is ‘ethical, acceptable and permissible’.
“In view of the continuous monitoring that the manufacturer does on the vaccines and also the due diligence done by various scientific institutions, both in Botswana and elsewhere, the ministry is confident that public health and safety have not been in any way compromised,” concluded Nyanga, further adding that at least 1 million doses of Pfizer vaccine will be affected by this directive.