UK loses £200m on excess swine flu vaccines, antivirals

The Government lost more than £200m on excess stocks of swine flu vaccine and antivirals, department figures show.

Accounts from the Department of Health reveal £128m was lost on surplus swine flu vaccine purchased last year.

A total of £30m of this related to supplies of the vaccine due to be delivered in 2010/11, when the worst of the pandemic was over.

Antivirals worth £72.9m have also been written off because there is no “documentary evidence” it was stored properly.

“The worldwide surplus of swine flu vaccine means that there is no active market in which the Department’s excess pandemic flu inventory can be sold,” the document adds.

The accounts, reported in GP newspaper, also show a further £23.5m was lost on date-expired vaccine, including for avian flu purchased in previous years.

Dr Peter Holden, of the British Medical Association (BMA), said the figures were “peanuts” in comparison to the cost of a severe pandemic.

“It’s not just about keeping the nation at work, but keeping society running. If you want 100% supply guarantee, it comes at a price.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “At the start of the outbreak, there was no way of knowing how virulent swine flu would be.

“The department took the necessary steps to deal with a worse case scenario in which it would have been necessary to vaccinate every member of the population twice. However, as the spread and virulence of the outbreak was less severe than first anticipated, less vaccine was needed.”

Source: Press Association

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