Out-of-date Covid vaccines: “take them or go on waiting list”

Alentejo health authority ‘offers no alternative’

Various Covid vaccination centres in the Alentejo using batches of vaccine that have exceeded manufacturers’ time limit are “refusing an alternative to patients who don’t want to be injected under these conditions“.

This is the latest revelation from investigative online Página Um, which broke the story earlier this week about Infarmed’s ‘informal authorisation’ to use phials of vaccine that had passed their use-by date.

If patients refuse what are essentially expired vaccines, “they are not vaccinated with another batch, they have to wait to be called at a later date”, writes Pedro Almeida Vieira.

He says “it is not even certain that people are being warned” about the condition of their vaccines “since information consent for administration is merely oral, without written evidence on the vaccines’ conditions or predictable adverse effects being presented in any kind of quantitative way”.

As his text explains at issue are an “indeterminate number of doses belonging to three specific lots of Covid-19 (mRNA) vaccines, which received an ad hoc authorisation to continue being administered beyond their expiry dates”.

Under normal circumstances, the vials of these batches should be destroyed”. However, in March, “through a simple communication by email to the Regional Health Administration (ARS) of Alentejo”, Infarmed granted authorization to extend validity.

“This special authorization is not, however, included in any of the usual Infarmed informational circulars, nor was it even introduced, with the identification of the batches in question, in the summary of the product’s characteristics.”

Last night, however, at 10:21 pm, PÁGINA UM received an email from Infarmed informing that “the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved, this year, the extension of some batches of vaccines against COVID-19, under deep-freezing conditions”, adding that “the three-month and six-month extensions apply to all Member States and have retroactive effect in relation to batches of injectables produced prior to approval”.

Infarmed has not made the EMA document available, says PÁGINA UM, nor explained the ‘secrecy of the measure’. The health ministry too is apparently remaining silent.

“We do not know how many people have been vaccinated under these conditions, nor how or by whom eventual side effects of this decision – supposedly to save money – will be evaluated”, says the online.

On the other side of the Atlantic a similar ‘subscriber funded’ independent journalistic project has revealed that PÁGINA UM’s concerns may be academic.

Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson has been analysing what he calls mRNA red flags, and discovering that “Omicron is surging in highly vaccinated states” – (whether people have been jabbed with valid or expired batches of vaccine).

Indeed, data from one state (Vermont) shows “the jabbed are now MORE likely to need hospitalization than the unvaccinated”.

As Berenson explains: In the spring and summer of 2021 (…) almost no vaccinated people were hospitalized statewide. Only a handful even contracted Covid.

“During the Delta wave in the fall of 2021 and the first Omicron surge in December and January, hospitalizations jumped in both the unvaccinated and vaccinated and reached a roughly 50/50 split. But because so many more people were vaccinated, vaccinated people still had a much lower risk per-person.

“Not anymore.

“In March, as the first Omicron wave ended, hospitalizations in both unvaccinated and vaccinated people plunged. But since Omicron surged again in April, almost five times as many vaccinated people have been hospitalized.”

These findings might explain the persistent warnings coming from Portuguese experts at a time when hospitalisations in Portugal for Covid-19 are not an issue. 

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com