Estonia fridge failure destroys more than 68,000 COVID shots

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(Reuters) - A refrigerator failure in Estonia destroyed more than 68,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines last week after the temperature rose to 15 degrees Celsius, the Health Board said on Tuesday.

The alarm system failed to report the failure, which lasted for more than 12 hours and was only detected after an employee entered the cold room.

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine must be kept at 2-8 degrees Celsius. At least 32,000 shots of other vaccines were also destroyed.

"Such cases are unacceptable," said Kati Kusmin, head of Estonia's state real estate management company which investigated the incident.

The destroyed vaccines were marked for donation outside Estonia, so the country's vaccination programme will not be disrupted, the Estonian public broadcaster reported.

Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on June 17 that Estonia would allocate 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Ukraine.

Estonia had vaccinated 50.4% of its adults with at least one dose by Tuesday, below the European average of 58.7%.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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