WHO exec: donated COVID-19 vaccines with short shelf life 'major problem'

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Pharmacist prepares a dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pfizer vaccine, in Johannesburg

GENEVA (Reuters) - Wealthy countries donating COVID-19 vaccines with a relatively short shelf life has been a "major problem" for the COVAX dose sharing programme, a senior official at the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Kate O'Brien, the WHO's vaccine director, said in a briefing the proportion of wasted doses is smaller in countries receiving doses through COVAX than in many high-income countries.

Her comments come as concerns grow that many African countries are finding they do not have the capacity to get shots in arms before they expire.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that up to 1 million vaccines are estimated to have expired in Nigeria last month without being used, one of the biggest single losses of doses that shows the difficulty African nations have getting shots in arms.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Josephine Mason in London; Editing by Alison Williams)