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The Flying Pigs: Why is the government letting a load of Covid vaccines go off in the back of the fridge?

Covid-19 vaccine
241 million Covid vaccine doses are likely to expire and go to waste (Photo: PA)

The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.

Professor Hector Schlenk – Senior Research Fellow, Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are always asking me questions. Questions like: “Do Insulate Britain realise that clogging up the M25, and leaving it full of stationary vehicles which then have to divert onto local roads is going to result in environmental harm?”; “Is Boris Johnson a credible champion for climate change activism?”; and “Do you realise your spaver is open?”

The Flying Pigs

To which the answers are, respectively: “Apparently not”, “Definitely not” and “No, not until I look for myself – making it a sort of Schrödinger’s spaver”.

But, this week, I have mainly been asked: “How have we got ourselves into a situation where the developed world has stockpiled so much Covid vaccine that 241 million doses are likely to expire and go to waste, while most of the world’s population is unvaccinated?”

To which I have to say, scale apart, this is a situation similar to that known in a domestic setting as having eyes bigger than your belly.

Many is the time that a quarter of a Warburtons 800g loaf has made its way into the food recycling, covered in hairy green mould, it’s early promise of being transformed into buttered toast, unfulfilled. Many is the bag of rocket that has been purchased with a heart full of hope and good intentions, only to be eventually removed from the fridge in a state of liquefaction.

We’re no strangers to food waste, but vaccine waste feels like a new low

Show me a man who claims that he does not possess a jar of fennel which was past its date in 2012, and I will show you a man who has never cleaned out his kitchen cupboards.

But there is, of course, a material difference between a slice of stilton that got nudged to the back of the top shelf of the fridge last Christmas and vast quantities of life-saving vaccine.

When one thinks of this tragic waste and reflects upon what our political lords and masters have said to us about the need to eradicate Covid worldwide, it’s almost as if they are putting narrow nationalistic concerns above the public interest. And they wouldn’t do that, would they?

Kevin Cash, money-saving expert and king of the grips

I da ken much aboot this type o’ thing, but the news this wik his been full o’ doom and gloom aboot gas. There’s been high demand in Asia combined wi’ a drop in reserves due tae last year’s extra lang winter, so the wholesale price for gas his gaan through the roof, energy companies is gaan bust and we’ll a ’end up wi’ a big hike in wir bills jist fan it’s time tae begin the annual battle for control o’ the thermostat.

“Gas? Dinna use it. Fit d’ye need it for onywye? Cooking and heating yer hoose? Luxury items

Een o’ the side effects o’ a’ this is a shortage o’ carbon dioxide. Apparently, it’s a by-product o’ making synthetic fertiliser and the fertiliser factories hiv stopped production because they canna afford tae pey their gas bills. Noo there’s nae enough CO2 left tae pit the fizz intae drinks, or tae keep food caul in supermarkets.

I’m nae fussed aboot that – stuff gan aff faster in the shops means mair orange ticketed items in the bargain aisle – but I canna thole flat Irn-Bru. I’ve got a haud o’ a load o’ second hand fertiliser fae my pal, Mick the Pill so I can mak my ain CO2 at hame. I’ve pit it in the backie. I dinna ‘hink the neighbours are too happy, though. Mick assured me it wis synthetic, but it smells pretty organic tae me.

Irn-Bru bottles
A lack of CO2 could impact Irn-Bru supplies (Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

So, wi’ fuel prices oot o’ control, foo can ye save yer cash? Weel, my solution is simple. Gas? Dinna use it. Fit d’ye need it for onywye? Cooking and heating yer hoose? Luxury items.

Fan I need tae heat a tin o’ beans I dae it the aul fashioned wye, oot the backie ower a crackling naked flame in my fire pit (fit I made myself oot o’ a wheel fit fell aff a Ford transit). A’by likes tae see a fire gaan. Wi’ the possible exception o’ a’ the ither residents o’ my tenement fan they’ve just pit oot their washing.

And, as for heating yer hoose in winter, dinna bother. Step one: abd’y kens heat rises, so jist bide on the tap fleer o’ a tenement tae enjoy a’ the benefits o’ central heating wi’ oot the inconvenience and expense o’ an operational biler.

Step twa: pit on six jumpers. They don’t just help keep ye warm, they also provide excellent cushioning for fan ye get a hiding fae yer neighbours, irate that ye’ve set fire tae their sharny-smelling bedsheets.


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