Around 31.3 million COVID-19 vaccines wasted in PH – Pia Cayetano

During the plenary discussion of the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, Senator Pia Cayetano stated that up to 31.3 million vaccines are being wasted nationwide.

The Health Department informed Cayetano, who sponsored the DOH budget, that the number of wasted was a portion of the 250.8 million doses the Philippine government had received since it started its effort to immunize its citizens against the viral disease.

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The senator was informed by DOH that only 171.2 million vaccines had been given.

According to Cayetano, the 31.3 million dosages that were discarded cost P15.6 billion.

She added that the DOH is unaware of the actual cost per vial and that the amount was only estimated at 500 pesos for the vaccine dose.

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“I have to emphasize ‘estimated’ because even the DOH does not know the cost because this was procured through an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). So based on an estimate of P500 per dose, it is…the cost is P15.6 billion,” Cayetano said.

She explained that the DOH is not a signatory to the confidentiality agreement between the Philippine government and the vaccine makers. Thus they have not been informed of the price of the vaccines.

Around 31.3 million COVID-19 vaccines wasted in PH – Pia Cayetano

According to Cayetano, the waste represents 12% of all the COVID-19 vaccines the Philippine government has purchased. She continued by saying that this is still within the World Health Organization’s indicated wastage rate (WHO).

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Then, Risa Hontiveros, the deputy minority leader, inquired whether the WHO had already altered the 10% suggested wastage rate.

In response, Cayetano stated that the WHO had discovered that the wastage rate reached 30% in low-, middle-, and even high-income countries, prompting the organization to lower the acceptable rate for unused vaccine to 25%.

Hontiveros complained that vaccination waste had climbed from 8.42% in August to 12% in November, a three-month increase.

However, Cayetano explained that the wastage did not actually increase and that the DOH just obtained more precise data because the prior figure did not include garbage from remote locations.

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