COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria) wastage and destruction: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

This freedom of information request relates to stocks of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Vaxzevria).

1. Please let me know the number (if any) of doses of the above vaccine destroyed of disposed of by, or on behalf of, NHS Scotland or the Scottish Government as a result of reaching or approaching their expiry date.

2. If doses were disposed of, was expert advice sought about whether the expiry date could be extended? Please provide copy of such advice.

3. Prior to disposal, was consideration given to donating or transferring such doses to another part of the United Kingdom or elsewhere?


1. The single source of vaccination wastage data for Scotland is through an online wastage reporting form (NSS Service Now). This is populated by health board clinical staff which can impact timeliness and accuracy. Information is not collected on wastage of vaccines in GPs practices. Given these limitations, the reported figures may be an under estimate.

Since the beginning of the vaccination programme, the total volume of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (Vaxzevria) that has been reported as wasted due to product expiry via the online wastage form (NSS Service Now); data extracted by NSS 3rd December 2021) is 28,850 doses. This includes both instances of where the expiry date for the product at +2-8°C has been exceeded and at clinic level, where a vaccination team has reached the end of an allotted shift or job, and have surplus vaccines that cannot be returned to stock, or used before they expire.

Some wastage is unavoidable for a variety of reasons including the characteristic of the vaccine, logistical issues with cold chain supply, storage failure and specific clinical situations. Any wastage is reviewed to ensure any preventable loss is avoided in the future. We will continue to monitor wastage rates and regularly report back via NSS reporting tool on waste. A waste management tool is now in place for the health system to learn why waste is arising so that solutions can be put in place to minimise waste.

2. To date, supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK has been authorised under Regulation 174 of the Human Medicine Regulations 2012. There is a requirement on the NHS to follow the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved manufacturer instructions for the storage, distribution and usage of the product to ensure its quality, stability and efficacy, and its safe and efficient use. Since the product was initially launched, there has been no agreed extension to the product shelf life.

3. Following changes in JCVI advice earlier in the year, there was a reduction in use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and instances of health boards holding more stock than could be used before the expiry date. Where this was identified, NSS National Procurement supported the transfer of stock between health boards to minimise the risk of waste through stock expiry. International donations of stock are co-ordinated at UK level by the UK Vaccine Taskforce.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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