Accusations of 'Immorality' as Over 600,000 Unused COVID Vaccines Collect Dust in Danish Storage

© REUTERS / DADO RUVICVials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and sryinge are seen in front of displayed Johnson&Johnson logo in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021
Vials labelled COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine and sryinge are seen in front of displayed Johnson&Johnson logo in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2021
According to Danish medical experts, the reasons to keep a large batch of unused vaccines are few, especially at a time when low-income countries are still struggling to get their vaccination programme started.
While Denmark currently has over 660,000 COVID shots from Johnson & Johnson in stock, the vaccine's future in the Scandinavian country is virtually non-existent, according to experts, who are calling for something to be done with them.
Unlike other vaccines, Johnson & Johnson has never been part of Denmark's inoculation programme, which is why experts are surprised the doses are still being kept. So far, merely 46,000 Danes have received the single-dose shot through a voluntary scheme, which is no longer available. To date, almost 76 percent of the Danish population has received at least one vaccine injection, which means that the pace of the rollout has slowed down, and the need for new doses - the first and second shots - has shrunk.
“It is really incomprehensible”, Flemming Konradsen, a professor of global health at the University of Copenhagen, told TV2.
Jan Pravsgaard Christensen, a professor of immunology at the same university, concurred.
“There are not many reasons to keep those doses in Denmark”, he said.
According to Flemming Konradsen, the only national argument for keeping these vaccines is that they can be a buffer for booster shots, which are already being administered to Danish nursing home residents and people with weakened immune systems. However, even if the third shot will be made available for all Danes, it is most likely to be the one they received previously, that is, Pfizer or Moderna.
The Health Ministry informed that 100,000 of the Johnson & Johnson doses have been reserved for Danish use in a deductible scheme where, among other things, companies can buy the vaccines for their employees. The ministry reckons that it will primarily be seafarers, Danes abroad and tourists. The rest of the stock of Johnson & Johnson has no designated use so far.
According to Konradsen, they must quickly find a future for the shots, before their shelf life expires.
“It is completely unnecessary for them to lie there and have months of their shelf life cut short when vaccines are needed elsewhere in the world. And beyond that, it seems very strange that we continue to receive new shipments” he said.
According to Konradsen, once you get vaccines inside Denmark, it becomes complicated to pass them on.

“It's not just driving them to the airport, and then they move on. It requires an enormous amount of official and paperwork”, he said.

A major problem is that the international alliance Covax, which distributes vaccines to third world countries, will not accept them. Covax will only deliver directly from the individual manufacturer to the recipient country to ensure logistics and security.
Jan Pravsgaard Christensen ventured that while it is nice to have spare doses lying around, it is unfair that Denmark and fellow EU countries are already discuss third doses, but many low-income countries are still struggling to get the first dose distributed.
“Seen in that light, there is somewhat immoral in having half and million doses lying in Denmark”, he said.
The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has several advantages. Among others, it can be stored at normal refrigerator temperature and requires only a single shot for full effect, which theoretically makes it more attractive for countries with poor logistics. However, the vaccine was reported to have a rare yet potentially deadly side effect of blood clotting.
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