Despite the surge in coronavirus cases across the U.S. due to the highly contagious Delta variant, vaccinations of Americans have slowed as shot hesitancy has set in, causing hundreds of thousands of doses of the COVID vaccine to expire and be thrown away.

According to ABC News, several states are reporting thousands of “wasted” doses of the vaccine, with many slated to expire as soon as next week and more set to expire at the end of August.

It is unclear the exact number of doses that will go unused in the U.S., but many states are reporting a high number of expiring doses even as their vaccination rates remain below the national average of about 50%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 167.1 million people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing 50.3% of the total American population.

A July survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that three in 10 adults remain unvaccinated, including one in 10 who say they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works for other people before getting vaccinated.

The survey also indicated that 3% of respondents would only get the COVID vaccine if required, with 14% saying they would definitely not get the shot. A total of 8% of all adults said they are likely to get the vaccine before the end of 2021.

Without the demand for vaccinations in the U.S., millions of vaccine doses have already expired and have been thrown away as a result. According to local reports, Alabama tossed 65,000 doses, Iowa dumped 81,000 doses, and Georgia got rid of 110,000 doses, as reported by Business Insider.

But the U.S. isn’t the only country dumping shots. In Israel, 80,000 vaccine doses expired at the end of July, local media reported, while Bulgaria was looking to offload almost 3 million vaccine doses that were expiring last month, the government said, as reported by The Washington Post.

The Netherlands also has thousands of expired vaccines and has already thrown away shots. Even Africa, where only about 2% of the population has received one dose of the vaccine, has more than 450,000 doses that will expire in early August, news outlets said.

Richard Mihigo, a coordinator of immunization and vaccine development for the World Health Organization’s regional office in Africa, told The Post, “Most of the vaccines arriving have a very short expiration date.”

Dr. Susan Hassig, an associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health, told ABC News the vaccine waste is disappointing as developing nations struggle to get access to vaccines.

“We have this amazing scientific product to help protect us and help us dampen down this pandemic, and it is going to waste. There are people and health workers in many countries who are desperate to get vaccinated, while doses are expiring and being wasted every day in this country.”

The European Medicines Agency said that evidence suggests that "both doses of a two-dose Covid-19 vaccine... are needed to provide adequate protection against the Delta variant"
A COVID vaccine is pictured here. AFP / Sergei GAPON