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The majority of the wasted Covid-19 vaccines in the Philippines were not under the safekeeping of the private sector. This was reiterated by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion as it was reported that 70 percent of 31.3 million wasted Covid vaccines were from the private sector.
Concepcion shared tallies of its Covid-19 vaccine inventoriesshowing that of the total 23,516,990 doses that the private sectorsecured through a tripartite agreement with government and the vaccine manufacturers, 9,398,230 doses have expired. Thisfigure includes the 2,834,495 doses it donated to localgovernments. The inventory, however, does not include other private sector initiatives, but Concepcion pointed out that these, too, would be under the custody of the government.
The private sector has noted that there have been gaps in the government’s monitoring and reporting of the inventory, especially of the vaccines that it donated as part of the tripartite agreement. Because Covid-19 vaccines are still under Emergency Use Authorization, only government can engage in their purchase and administration, including assessing how many more it needed to buy and add to the private sector donations, and which of the total inventory were nearing their expiry dates so that it can use these first before procuring more.Among the factors cited by the government as contributing to the wastage of the vaccines were short shelf life and temperature excursion. It also noted from its inventories that some vials were not opened or used at all.
Other factors also figured in restricting the use of the vaccines, such as the delays in handing down guidelines for administering the vaccines.
“Private sector has always been pro-active in pushing for vaccinations,” said Concepcion. “In fact we were the ones asking the HTAC (Health Technology Assessment Council) to adopt the US FDA guidelines just so we can speed up the booster vaccinations,” he said. It will be recalled that in July, millions of Covid-19 vaccines worth billions of pesos expired just days after second boosters were allowed for adults 50 years and older, and those 18 to 49 years with comorbidities.
“There are clearly several gaps that led to the expiry of the vaccines,” Concepcion said. “Some of those gaps we tried to point out, such as the need to listen to the science and real-world data coming from abroad, and to act swiftly considering that our economy is on the line,” he said. “We need to learn from this experience and lay down clear guidelines for vaccinations.”
Concepcion reiterated his suggestion that pre-registering vaccinees will be the way to go in future vaccination efforts. He has offered to provide the DOH with a list of employees from the private sector who are willing to be vaccinated. The strategy is meant to ensure that the vaccines to be procured by the government will be used. LGUs, he said, can also adopt the scheme.
He also proposed that the government allow private hospitals and other healthcare facilities to procure the vaccines, which they can then pass on at cost to those who are eligible. Vaccines against Covid-19 have yet to become commercially available unless drug manufacturers secure a Certificate of Product Registration for their vaccines. .