DISINFO: AstraZeneca vaccines were returned to the manufacturer because they were expired or fabricated
coronavirus vaccination

DISINFO: AstraZeneca vaccines were returned to the manufacturer because they were expired or fabricated


AstraZeneca vaccines were returned to the manufacturer in whole batches, which turned out to be either expired or fabricated.


This is part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign aiming to discredit Western vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The claim that AstraZeneca vaccines were returned to the manufacturer because they were expired or fabricated is false.

This claim comes amid several countries temporarily suspending the use of AstraZeneca vaccines following some reports of blood clotting and low platelet count which could be suspected as side effects. Following the reports the European Medicines Agency and national health authorities are reviewing the reports to better understand the individual cases.

Of the countries that purchased the AstraZeneca vaccine, none returned the vaccine to its manufacturer. On February 16, 2021, it was reported in the media that South Africa would return one million doses of the vaccine to the Serum Institute (one of the largest manufacturers of AstraZeneca vaccine), although this was not due to problems with its quality.

According to the South African Ministry of Health, small clinical observations prior to the start of the vaccination programme showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine had minimal efficacy against the South African strain of the virus. Because this particular strain is the most common in South Africa, the country has suspended its AstraZeneca vaccination programme for healthcare workers.

However, on February 17, 2021, the Economic Times, the first source of information, updated the article after further communication with the South African government, stating that despite the suspension of the vaccination programme, the government had no plans to return AstraZeneca to the manufacturer. Instead, the South African government has offered a million doses purchased from the Serum Institute to the African Union to distribute the vaccine to African countries concerned.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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