Health authorities in Malawi have burned 19,610 expired doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, saying it will reassure the public that any vaccines they do get are safe.
It is the first African country to publicly do this.
The World Health Organization initially urged countries not to destroy expired doses but has now changed its advice.
Uptake of the vaccine in Malawi has been low and health workers hope the move will increase public confidence.
Out of a population of about 18 million people, the country has recorded 34,232 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,153 deaths.
Malawi received 102,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine it acquired from the African Union on 26 March and used almost 80% of them.
But the expiry date on the labels was 13 April so vials were taken out of the cold chain needed to store them.
Malawi’s principal health secretary said it was unfortunate they had to destroy the vials but the benefits of doing so outweighed the risks.
Malawi is not the only country in Africa to have expired vaccines.
The WHO now says vaccines already sent out by the manufacturer with a set expiry date should be destroyed.
“While discarding vaccines is deeply regrettable in the context of any immunisation programme, WHO recommends that these expired doses should be removed from the distribution chain and safely disposed of,” it said in a statement on 17 May.