Nearly 2000 Covid vaccine doses destroyed after freezer fails in Boston

State has seen a 24 per cent decrease in vaccine administration over last seven days

Louise Hall
Friday 22 January 2021 15:13
White House press secretary addresses vaccine criticism

Nearly 2,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine have been spoiled at a hospital in Boston after a freezer was accidentally unplugged and its alarm system failed.  

A spokesperson confirmed to NBC Boston that 1,900 doses being held at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center in Boston were ruined on Tuesday.

The plug for the device became loose after a contractor "accidentally removed it while cleaning," a VA spokesperson told the broadcaster, and the equipment’s monitoring and alarm system failed.

Reports said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident and why the monitoring and alarm system malfunctioned.

The spokesperson said that replacement of the doses is in process and the medical centre does not "foresee disruption of our vaccination effort."

The two-dose Moderna vaccine, developed by US biotech firm Moderna, is almost 95 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and needs to be stored at fridge temperature.

The other candidate by the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, which has also been approved for emergency use, needs to be stored and transported at -70C.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health revealed that 86,230 people have received doses of the jab in the state across the last seven days, marking a 24 per cent decrease from the week before.

In total, 359,919 doses of the vaccine have been administered to people in the state, but the report did not break down the data by first and second dose of the vaccine.

The number of total doses shipped to Massachusetts is also down this week by 73 per cent with only 52,225 shipped to the area, according to the health department’s data.

Massachusetts has recorded almost 500,000 cases of the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began, leading to the deaths of nearly 14,000 people.

In a similar incident earlier in January, Officials in the northern California county of Mendocino were forced to distribute emergency coronavirus shots following a freezer power outage.

An alarm designed to alert staff to power failures on the freezer malfunctioned during the outage so health officials had to swiftly administer hundreds of jabs immediately to people who were available.

Even when unimpeded, the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the US has been slower than officials initially projected amid reports of delayed distribution and accusations of lack of federal organisation.

Joe Biden has vowed to move “heaven and earth” to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days since his inauguration as president on 20 January.

The US has recorded over 24.7 million cases of the novel coronavirus disease since the pandemic gripped the nation in March, leading to the deaths of over 410,000 Americans.

Health officials are continuing to urge people to follow public health guidance recommendations to stem the spread of the virus to buy officials “critical time to increase vaccination coverage.”

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