Germany on track to bin 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

The total waste is likely to run into the billions of euros.

Germany on track to bin 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

Germany has thrown out 83 million doses of coronavirus vaccines at a rough cost of €1.6 billion and has 120 million more doses sitting unused in stock, even as it is set to receive more jabs at a time when vaccination has flatlined.

According to data provided by the country’s health ministry, Germany scrapped 54 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2022 and another 29 million in the first quarter of 2023.

However, the real tally is likely to be higher. The ministry didn’t provide waste figures for the second quarter of this year and also stressed that federal states and health care providers aren’t required to report vaccine waste. “Accordingly, a total volume of total disposed COVID-19 vaccine doses acquired by the Federal Republic of Germany cannot be quantified,” it said in an email to POLITICO.

Meanwhile, another 120 million doses are still in stock as the number of people getting vaccines has plummeted. The EU’s disease control agency’s most recent data shows that a total of 268 doses were administered in Germany in the week of June 5. And 1,462 people were jabbed in the three weeks before that.

While vaccination rates are likely to pick up in the fall as health systems brace for seasonal infections, this is unlikely to make a dent in the 120 million vaccines sitting unused. Germany has a population of 83 million people and has administered a total of 192 million jabs over the course of the whole pandemic.

The cost of this waste is almost certain to run into the billions of euros.

While the ministry didn’t provide a breakdown of the type of vaccines wasted, it did say that of the 29 million vaccines that had expired by the end of the first quarter of 2023, 5 million were Moderna, 18 million were BioNTech/Pfizer, and another 6 million were Novavax.

Assuming a similar breakdown for the doses that expired at the end of 2022, as well as the remaining 120 million that are unused, that would put the total value of the unused vaccines at roughly €4 billion based on leaked prices of €19 ($20.90) per dose for Novavax, €23 ($25.50) for Moderna and €19.50 for BioNTech/Pfizer.

EU countries, including Germany, are still on the hook for even more doses after a recent deal negotiated between the Commission and U.S. pharmaceutical Pfizer. The exact number of deliveries that the bloc is set to receive isn’t public, but one participant of a confidential meeting where details of the revised contract were shared with a select group of MEPs told POLITICO that the figure is 260 million doses spread out over the course of the next four years — or 65 million doses per year.