MORE than 1,100 doses of Pfizer’s precious coronavirus vaccine have been destroyed – after an employee accidentally turned off the refrigerator they were being stored in.
Employees from the Palm Beach County Health Care District exposed the blunder while conducting a “quality assurance check” last Friday morning, before inoculations began.
An employee from the Palm Beach County Health Care District accidentally turned the refrigerator offCredit: Reuters
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored within specific temperatures, otherwise it becomes ineffectiveCredit: AFP or licensors
A member of staff had accidentally shut off the power supply to the fridge – rendering the doses useless.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at a temperature of -70C in order to preserve some of its components, before being transferred to a regular refrigerator five days before use.
If exposed to warmer temperatures, the Belgian-made vaccine degrades and becomes ineffective.
Palm Beach County officials released a statement on Friday to reassure Americans, stressing it was a “single, isolated incident caused by human error”.
They insisted it had: “absolutely no impact on patient safety” and that the spoiled vaccines – 232 vials, which works out at approximately 1,160 doses – were safely destroyed.
Officials have now enforced “additional safeguards” to avoid another expensive error of the same kind and have began storing doses in a centralised fridge, equipped with a back up generator.
The Health Care District said they had provided nearly 25,000 jabs since December 23, 2020.
Current data shows that only 6.9 per cent of Americans have received their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.
Just 1.4 per cent have received both doses of the vaccine.
The US has reported over 26.1 million coronavirus cases and over 441,000 total deaths, while more than 101,000 patients have been hospitalised.
Despite the slim rollout rate, it is clear people realise the value of the vaccine – such as the health workers in Oregon, who went car to car injecting stranded drivers stuck in a snowstorm before the leftover doses expired.
It comes as countries across the world descend into panic, as fears continue to rise regarding the equal distribution of the supply.
The UK faced a disruption of doses this week after the European Commission planned to impose emergency border controls on vaccines coming from the EU to Northern Ireland.
This included the 40 million doses that PM Boris Johnson secured from Pfizer’s Belgian plant.
As well as this, the Rwandan state minister for primary healthcare, Tharcisse Mpunga, pleaded: “efforts should be made to ensure Africa is not left behind in the global fight to combat COVID-19,” as the continent desperately attempts to secure enough doses.
The Africa CDC warned that adequate vaccines are not likely reach African countries until mid-2021.
Countries across the globe are concerned about supply shortages of the vaccinesCredit: Reuters
President Joe Biden visiting a vaccination center in Maryland amid poor inoculation rates from the USCredit: AFP or licensors