CVS, Walgreens wasted thousands of vaccines, CDC reports

The two major chains reportedly wasted more doses than nearly all states, U.S. territories and federal agencies combined.

New data is showing that the two national pharmacy chains entrusted to administer coronavirus vaccines wasted tens of thousands of doses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 182,874 wasted doses of vaccine as of late March, according to reports. CVS was responsible for almost half of all wasted doses, while Walgreens was responsible for almost a quarter.

Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines, which, in December, were the first to be deployed and needed to be stored at ultracold temperatures, reportedly made up nearly 60 percent thrown-out doses from CVS and Walgreens. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The two major chains wasted more doses than nearly all states, U.S. territories and federal agencies combined.

The greatest source of waste is vaccine storage. The COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at ultracold temperatures.

According to a report from NBC News, nearly all of the waste incurred by CVS happened early in the rollout when the pharmacy giant was enlisted by the administration of former President Donald Trump to vaccinate residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care centers.

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The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine, which, in December, was the first to be deployed, reportedly made up nearly 60 percent of the thrown-out doses.

“To me, this ultimately correlates with just poor planning,” said Dr. Michael Wasserman, a critic of the corporate effort. He served as immediate past president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine.

“CVS and Walgreens didn’t have a clue when it came to interacting with nursing homes,” Wasserman told NBC. “Missed opportunities for vaccination in long-term care invariably results in deaths.”

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Experts say it is important to recognize where vaccine doses are being wasted and why to track progress in ultimately achieving herd immunity.

CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis told NBC the wasted doses were due to “issues with transportation restrictions, limitations on redirecting unused doses and other factors.”

Walgreens said it made “every effort” to reduce waste in the vaccination effort.

As of March 30, the U.S. had delivered about 189.5 million doses and administered 147.6 million.

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