DoH ‘ready to face investigation’ on unused, expired Covid-19 vaccines

The Department of Health (DoH) on Friday, 5 August said it is ready to provide answers to queries on unused and expired Covid-19 vaccines amounting to P5 billion to P13 billion. 

In a media briefing, Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire was asked for her reaction to the resolution filed by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros seeking to investigate the alleged “wastage of public funds.”

“The Department of Health is ready to answer any question or investigation regarding our vaccine deployment program, which includes the wastage of vaccines,” Vergeire said.

The official noted that so far, the country’s Covid-19 vaccine wastage is still within the threshold set by the World Health Organization.

“Wastage of vaccines is part of the vaccine deployment, it has always been part of every program we are implementing,” she added. 

Vergeire noted that a lot of factors could be a reason for the wastage of vaccines such as breakage of vials in the logistical process, natural calamities, and power outages. 

“We are not denying that we have expired vaccines. We will be answering these questions,” she said.

At the moment, Vergeire refused to provide details on how many vaccines were unused and expired.

“We do not want to give exact numbers because as days pass by, we continue our investigation. We do not want to give different answers, especially to our senators,” Vergeire said.

On Wednesday, Hontiveros cited various reports stating that between April to July, it is possible that there were between 4 to 27 million of unused and expired Covid-19 vaccine doses bound to be thrown away, which is equivalent to a whopping P5 to P13 billion. 

“Of course, there are vaccines that we know we can no longer use due to various reasons. There is really a margin of error. But in this case, we bid goodbye to billions of money?” she said.

“It looks like we are wasting our money on these vaccines while Covid-19 cases continue to increase,” she added.

Hontiveros expressed her dismay over the alleged wastage of public funds, which she said could have been used as financial aid for those heavily affected by the pandemic. 

“There are many sectors that are tirelessly asking for support from the government yet those who manage our vaccines are wasting our funds,” she said.

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