Switzerland will destroy 9 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that have reached their expiry date, with another 5.1 million vaccine jabs set to meet the same fate by February, the government said on Wednesday.
The wastage reflects the Swiss strategy of ordering more vaccines than it needed to ensure its population of around 8.7 million would get sufficient supplies even in the event of supply bottlenecks or quality issues.
Other countries too have destroyed hundreds million of doses of expired vaccines.
"With this deliberately chosen strategy, it was accepted that too much vaccine would be procured and that some of the procured doses would have to be sold, passed on or possibly destroyed," the cabinet said in a statement.
Since the end of 2020, Switzerland has got 31.9 million vaccine doses from Moderna and other suppliers, of which 16.1 million have been administered. Another 3.2 million were passed on to third countries, the government said.
Just under 70% of the population has had at least one shot in Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein, which is low compared to vaccination rates in many other Western European countries.
Authorities have reported 4.2 million COVID infections and nearly 13,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic.