Zero demand and no alternative: Dutch GPs frustrated as thousands of AstraZeneca jabs face the bin

As a result of the poor AstraZeneca campaign across the country, Dutch doctors will now likely be forced to bin tens of thousands of AstraZeneca doses. They have no other alternative, as the jabs cannot be delivered to a different country.

From the outset, the turnout rate to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine was disappointingly low across the Netherlands. This was due to fear over a handful of cases of thrombosis in recipients of the vaccine. While the Dutch government insisted that the benefits of the jab outweighed the risk, trust in the AstraZeneca jab across the Netherlands plummeted.

Elderly and at-risk patients were invited to receive the vaccine at Dutch GPs and the fridges were stocked with doses — but not enough people wanted them. And now anywhere up to 100,000 doses of the jab will likely end up in the bin, Trouw reports.

Cannot be moved to another country

Dutch GPs are extremely disappointed by this outcome, however, a spokesperson for the Health and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ), confirms to Trouw that it simply isn’t possible to move the vaccines to another country, “not even when it’s free, and for a good cause.”

This is because the quality of the vaccine cannot be guaranteed if it is continually transported, “there are high requirements for a shot when it comes to cooling, transport and shelf life,” they explain. The trip to the GP was enough of a risk, meaning that jabs must either be used there or… well, dumped there.

Majority of Dutch GPs with leftover vaccines

The National GP Association (LHV) believes that the majority of the Netherlands’ 6,000 GP practices have leftover doses of the vaccine in their fridges. One such GP, Dennis Mook-Kanamori, tells Trouw that he counts over 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine between himself and 150 other GPs in the Leiden region alone.

“We have linked the refrigerators to an alarm system, so that you can read the correct temperature per minute. The vast majority of vaccines are still in a sealed box. And yet they have to go in the trash,” Dr Mook-Kanamori tells Trouw.

To make matters worse, GP Marko Blanker — the man who coordinated the Netherlands’ “trash vaccine” website to reduce the number of wasted vaccines — suspects that the country currently has 100,000 unused doses of the vaccine.

The government’s response

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has acknowledged that “some” vaccines will be binned, Trouw reports. In a press release, the ministry calls the waste “a real shame” and emphasises that the RIVM will try to reduce the potential waste as best they can.

GPs who have leftover doses will now make these doses known to an “RIVM broker.” The jabs will then be moved to somewhere else in the country where they will be needed. Using this approach, the ministry is hopeful that there will be a “limited amount” of waste.

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Feature Image: Mat Napo/Unsplash

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

1 COMMENT

  1. Tis a pity the vaccine rollout wasn’t advertised. More people woulda got the jab if they had known the local docs had it.

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