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Hundreds of coronavirus vaccines wasted after fridge switched off

Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

By Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor

Hundreds of coronavirus vaccines went to waste after a fridge was accidentally turned off in a vaccination centre, the PA news agency understands.

Around 450 doses of the Pfizer jab had to be binned following a “power-related issue” with a fridge at Montgomery Hall in Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham, last month.

Ninety vials of the vaccine – each containing up to five doses – were wasted when the fridge was inadvertently switched off overnight at the venue, sources confirmed.

Staff are understood to have discovered the issue when they checked the fridge temperature early in the morning of January 8.

Vaccine supplies were diverted to the hall so that all patients who were due to receive their first dose at the site could still do so despite the error, Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said.

A CCG spokesman said: “Following a power-related issue with the fridge at a vaccination service site, a number of Pfizer vaccine vials were compromised as a result of not being stored at the required temperature overnight, which meant staff were unable to administer that batch of vaccines.

“However, thanks to our partners across Rotherham, we were able to ensure all patients booked in at the site received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine as planned.”

Vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be stored below 8C in a fridge at vaccine centres for a few days after they have been removed from cold storage at minus 70C.

Guidance from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) now states that up to six doses can be extracted per vial, though this was not policy at the time of the incident.

More than 10.1 million coronavirus jabs have been given in the UK so far, according to Government data, including 9.6 million first doses.

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