Hamburg/Berlin (dpa) – Against the background of declining vaccination demand, the first federal states are returning unused vaccine doses to the federal government. Hamburg and Berlin want to reduce tens of thousands of vaccine doses. Other states are still investigating this or are not planning to do so at the moment.
In a letter to the German News Agency, the Federal Ministry of Health had given the Länder the option to “send vaccine doses that are no longer used in the national vaccination campaign and whose storage makes it possible to pass them on to third countries as part of of the donations” returned to the central warehouse of the federal government.
The vaccines must be stable for at least two months. Vaccines from doctor’s offices and company doctors may not be returned to the federal government. First, Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines must be returned to the federal government, which are stored in distribution centers and have not left them since the federal government delivered them. “This is the only way to ensure the pharmaceutical quality, effectiveness and harmlessness of the Covid-19 vaccines while respecting the necessary storage and transport conditions,” the letter said.
“Hamburg will take advantage of this opportunity,” said the health authority’s spokesman, Martin Helfrich, of the German news agency. This involves a stock of some 6,000 vials containing some 60,000 doses of Astrazeneca’s vaccine. “This vaccine is stable for at least three months.” There is also a stock of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “We currently have about 24,000 cans of this in stock.” However, the drug is used in mobile vaccination campaigns – for example in employment offices.
These states want to return vaccine
According to the health administration, Berlin wants to return up to 62,400 doses of vaccine to the federal government. Accordingly, it is the current stock of the Astrazeneca vaccine, which can be stored for several months.
Lower Saxony also considers a return of vaccines to the federal government likely. However, it is not yet possible to predict how many vaccine doses will be returned, said a spokesman for the dpa’s health ministry in Hanover. It is clear that this mainly concerns doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine.
According to spokespersons, the ministries of health in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein are still investigating a return of vaccination doses. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Baden-Württemberg announced that the state wanted to return about 4,000 cans of Astrazeneca, although the expiration date was at the end of July.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, giving back vaccination doses is not a problem at the moment. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Mainz told the dpa: “We are currently expected to make almost full use of the vaccine delivered before the expiration date.” Should this no longer be guaranteed in the future – this would probably only affect parties Astrazeneca in October – Rhineland-Palatinate could imagine accepting the federal government’s offer to return.