Senate to investigate vaccine wastage

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MANILA — The Senate will conduct an investigation into the alarming reports of millions of unused and expired Covid-19 vaccine doses as the government attempts to reach its vaccination targets with the increasing cases of the disease due to the new variants.

There is no specific date for the investigation, which was initiated by a resolution filed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who stated that “this large-scale wastage should never be condoned”.

“Of course, there are vaccines that we know will not be used for various reasons because there’s really a margin of error. But in this case, is this really just goodbye to billions of pesos? It seems that we’re throwing away money and vaccines in the face of fast-rising Covid-19 cases,” Hontiveros told reporters in Filipino and English.

She also revealed reports of unused and expired Covid-19 shots worth billions of pesos, way beyond estimated figures of inevitable vaccine wastage.

According to news reports, around four million to 27 million of unused and expired doses were set to be thrown from April to July, amounting to a staggering P5 billion to P13 billion.

Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion previously estimated the losses on expired vaccines procured by the private sector at P5.1 billion, which he described as a “preventable loss.”

Since April, Concepcion has been spearheadeingthe private sector in appealing to the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) to allow second booster vaccinations.

“The lack of urgency on the part of the HTAC and the DOH (Department of Health) at which the vaccination advisories, policies and implementation progressed caused the bulk disposal of these hard-earned COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

Based on the resolution, it is imperative for government authorities to strive for less Covid-19 vaccine wastage, to accurately and transparently report vaccine wastage, identify drivers of wastage and implement effective interventions to reduce it.

“Where were the mistakes or gaps in the process? In the procurement? In the rollout? In the issuance of guidelines?” Hontiveros said.

The senator lamented that many sectors needing financial aid remain unassisted due to lack of funds, and yet, “those managing our vaccines are just going to throw money away.”

The DOH is aiming to administer Covid-19 booster shots to 11 million to 23 million fully vaccinated individuals within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.

Sen. Bong Go has also promised to immediately conduct a hearing on the status of the government’s Covid-19 response, including the reported expiring vaccines.

Go, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, agreed that no vaccines should be wasted because individuals worked hard merely to be able to buy and obtain Covid-19 vaccines.

“As the chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, once the resolution is referred to us, we will immediately conduct a hearing on the status of our COVID-19 response,” he said in a statement.

“We should all work together so that nothing will be wasted, and they will reach our qualified compatriots who have not been vaccinated in any corner of the Philippines,” he added.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.