Vaccine waste in the Netherlands: RIVM to introduce new delivery guidelines
New research has revealed that healthcare institutions across the country were having to outsource vaccination deliveries to companies without any experience in pharmaceuticals, leading to unnecessary waste of doses. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate is now asking for stricter regulations for vaccine transportation in the Netherlands.
Local kroket supplier delivering Pfizer vaccines
Countries around the world are battling to get as many members of their population vaccinated against coronavirus as soon as possible, and finding ways to deliver doses to each vaccination point in a quick and efficient manner can be tricky. Here in the Netherlands, this means that some deliveries have been outsourced in order to up delivery capacity. However, new research shows that this has led to increased vaccine waste as doses weren’t transported in the correct way.
According to an investigation carried out by AD, transportation and deliveries aren’t always carried out by professional or specialised companies, and in one instance a local kroket supplier and his truck were used for Pfizer / BioNTech deliveries. Errors made during transportation - for example, doses being handled too roughly, or being left outside of a fridge for long periods of time - has led to a number of vaccines having to be disposed of.
Unnecessary coronavirus vaccination waste
Due to the scale of the vaccination programme in the Netherlands, it was decided that each healthcare institution had to organise transportation between vaccination locations itself. Guidelines provided by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) do not state that the companies carrying out the deliveries must have experience transporting pharmaceuticals.
Léon Tinke, chairman of BG Pharma, said he was surprised to see so many deliveries outsourced in the Netherlands: “We do this every day according to very strict quality requirements... transporting a delicate vaccine is different from a kroket sandwich,” he said.
According to Charlotte Menten, spokesperson for the RIVM, it is not yet known precisely how many doses have been wasted as a result of poor transportation conditions. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate has asked the RIVM “how the current situation can be improved urgently,” and has asked for the guidelines to be revised so that only professional companies transport doses.
Slow vaccination rate in the Netherlands
This isn’t the first time news of unnecessary vaccine waste in the Netherlands has caused a stir. Earlier this month, AD also published research which revealed that GGDs across the country were forced to throw out vaccines because they aren’t allowed to mix any leftovers from different vials in order to have an additional dose - something which is done in hospitals.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has come under fire for the slow vaccination pace in the Netherlands. So far, around 570.000 people in the Netherlands have received at least one jab - amounting to approximately 2,4 percent of the population, one of the lowest rates in Europe. The Dutch government recently announced a new strategy that should see two million people vaccinated by the end of February.