July 21, 2021 AMSTERDAM - Tens of thousands of AstraZeneca vaccines leftover in the refrigerators of Dutch general practitioners will likely end up in the trash. The doctors planned to donate these unused vaccines to other countries with a shortage, but the Dutch Medicines Act prohibits that, the Volkskrant reports.
"The law states that medicines that have already been delivered to doctors for their patients may not be traded. Not even when it is free and for a good cause," a spokesperson for the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate said to the newspaper.
GPs can report their remaining AstraZeneca vaccines to the public health institute RIVM, which will see if they can be used elsewhere in the Netherlands. But the chance of that seems small. The demand for AstraZeneca vaccines plummeted, especially since people were given the possibility to choose Pfizer for their second shot.
So far over 39 thousand leftover vaccines were reported to the RIVM, a spokesperson said to the newspaper. GPs' association NHG estimates that between 100 thousand and 200 thousand AstraZeneca vaccines are in GP fridges all over the country. The Hollands Midden Noord region just finished its last round of AstraZeneca vaccinations and still has about 10 thousand doses left, GP Dennis Mook-Kanamori said to the Volkskrant. "I'm afraid they will end up in the trash," he said.
Doctors saw this coming weeks ago, trainee GP Bernard Leenstra from Bilthoven said. Leenstra was one of the initiators of Prullenbakvaccin, which saved thousands of AstraZeneca doses by linking doctors with a surplus to doctors with a shortage. In recent weeks, he and other doctors have been working on a plan to donate the remaining vaccines to Namibia, where there is a shortage. "And now that's not happening because of legislation. That hurts. They are excellent vaccines and the country can really use every dose."