The U.K. has used just 142 million of the stockpile of 650 million vaccine doses it purchased, leaving an estimated £4 billion worth of vaccines unused and, at current levels of take-up, likely going to waste. The vaccines typically have an expiration date of six to 12 months after manufacture – though it’s not clear how many of the 650 million doses have already been manufactured and put in storage and how many are on order for future manufacture and delivery.
Officials have not revealed exactly how much was paid for the Pfizer vaccines, which comprise nearly a third of the total ordered, but the U.S. Government is reputed to have paid around $20 (£16) a dose.
The Moderna vaccine is said to have cost a bit less, perhaps about $15 (£12) per dose, and the Astra Zeneca considerably less, perhaps as low as $4 (£3) per dose as it was sold at cost. There are no data on the other five types ordered, all of which are as yet completely unused.
If an average price of $10 (£8) per dose is assumed, the total bill for all the unused vaccine doses will amount to around $5 billion or £4 billion. Will the public be forgiving of this massive waste of public funds on account of it occurring with good intentions during a state of emergency? That remains to be seen.