About 100,000 Vaccine Doses in South Carolina Could Expire by Fall as Delta Variant Spikes

A South Carolina health organization is on the verge of having to dispose of life-saving vaccines in the coming months, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Nearly 100,000 vaccine doses could expire by the fall if they aren't administered.

"We're hoping to use that supply up rather than see that happen," said Dr. Rick Scott, chairman of Prisma Health's vaccination task force, during a media call on July 28. "We wish demand was there."

Prisma Health is the largest not-for-profit health organization in South Carolina. Palmetto Health and the Greenville Health System merged in 2017 to form Prisma Health.

Currently, there are over 1,500 suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, which were recorded on July 23. The 7-day average in South Carolina is over 1,200 new cases. On the same call, Dr. Helmut Albrecht stated that the Delta variant accounts for nearly all new cases in South Carolina.

"The Delta variant transmission rate is doubling every week," said Albrecht. "The variant of the respiratory virus made up all of the more than 50 viruses sequenced at the University of South Carolina School of Pharmacy this month and the vast majority of those hospitalized across the state."

He also spoke about the unvaccinated populations and how they're mostly being affected by the newly-mutated strain.

"Almost all hospitalizations and deaths are in the unvaccinated group," Albrecht said. "But the Delta variant not only causes more vaccine breakthroughs, and while those breakthroughs are typically mild to moderate, it can produce enough virus in the vaccinated folks to cause symptomatic infection, which means if you sneeze or you cough, that can spread this. This is very clear."

"We ask folks to wear masks, not to protect themselves but to protect others," Albrecht added.

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A bottle reading "Vaccine Covid-19" and a syringe next to the Pfizer and Biontech logo. Joel Saget/Getty Images

As of Wednesday, Prisma Health has been treating over 100 patients with COVID-19. The majority of these individuals are unvaccinated. Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System has treated 46 patients COVID-19. 43 of those patients are unvaccinated.

On July 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that all Americans, even those who are vaccinated, should still continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We are not defenseless against COVID-19," said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. "Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting."

"All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities," he added.