P10-B vaccines gone wasted, says senator

More than P10 billion worth of Covid-19 vaccines has gone to waste, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros.

Despite assurances made by the Department of Health that the COVAX facility will replace all expired vaccines, Hontiveros was not pleased.

“It was regrettable that it was like we just spent billions of pesos for nothing,” she said.

Hontiveros said the expired vaccines are equivalent to at least 20.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, amounting to P10.33 billion at P500 per vaccine.

“Hopefully the Committee on Health will continue to hear this matter, especially since our public health officials are asking Congress to amend and update certain provisions of Republic Act 11525, our National Vaccination Program. The budget continues to leak as we speak,” she said.

During the Senate Committee on Health hearing Monday, DoH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country’s vaccine wastage rate reached 8.42 percent as of 12 August, more than double the rate in June at 4.2 percent.

However, Vergeire said the rate is still within the 10 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization.

Asked what caused the vaccine wastage, she said it came from natural disasters, temperature controls, spillage, as well as discoloration in vials.

“The COVAX has agreed to replace all expired vaccines, regardless (of) whether they were procured by the government or private or if they were donated supplies, upon the request of the government of the Philippines as long as these replacement vaccines will be used and will not expire again,” Vergeire said.

The official previously said that the replacement of these expired vaccines will be delivered in the country by schedule.

“There will be scheduled days of replacement because we are scheduling these replacements at the time we need them,” she said.

“Right now, we still have sufficient vaccines. The replacement will be delivered when the supplies deplete,” she added.

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