July 28, 2010

Unused Flu Vaccine Doses Destroyed In Netherlands

Seventeen million unused doses of H1N1 -- swine flu -- vaccine are being destroyed by Netherlands health officials as the shots are nearing their expiration date, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

"We have started destroying" the vaccines, said health ministry spokeswoman Inge Freriksen. "In the coming months, 17.8 million doses will be destroyed because the expiry date is approaching," she told AFP.

The Dutch government bought 31 million doses of the vaccine during the height of the global swine flu epidemic last year. Only around 11 million doses were used.

More than 2,150 people infected with swine flu were hospitalized in the Netherlands between April and December last year and 53 died. The Dutch government in November said it planned on selling 19 million doses to other countries, but was only able to offload around 260,000 doses.

The government will keep 2.2 million doses with a later expiration date "in case the virus returns in one form or another," Freriksen said.

The swine flu was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on June 11, 2009, and says it has claimed some 18,311 lives around the world.

An investigation was called for by the Council of Europe to probe the handling of the swine flu outbreak by WHO, which it said caused unjustified scares and wasted public funds.