DOH, NTF: Only 2% of procured COVID-19 vaccines are considered wastage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — Amid concerns over the 27 million COVID-19 shots set to expire in July, health officials have assured that only 2% of the vaccines procured by the national government are considered wastage.

In a joint statement on Monday, the Department of Health and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said 2% of vaccines were wasted because of “supply chain inefficiencies or errors in dose administration.” This rate is “far less than the 10% indicative wastage rate used by the World Health Organization in the planning and forecasting of vaccine supply needs.”

Earlier, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon expressed concern over possible waste of multi-billion peso fund used to buy COVID-19 vaccines in the event these reach the expiration date without being administered.

The amount of money that may be wasted is pegged to reach over P13 billion.

Concepcion noted that of the 244 million vaccine inventory of the country, 27 million shots procured by the national government and the private sector are set to expire in July.

The DOH and NTF explained that they “made sure from the very start to ensure that there will be enough vaccines available on hand... No one could guarantee for certain that manufacturers could deliver at the scale and schedule our people required; hence, decisions were made to secure as many doses as could be obtained from wherever they could be sourced.”

Despite the vaccine hesitancy, inoculation in the country has improved, with over 65 million Filipinos now fully immunized. The concern now is convincing people, especially those at high risk, to get booster shots

Latest government data show that only around 4 million of over 15 million eligible senior citizens and persons with comorbidities have received booster shots.

The DOH and NTF said they are “working with manufacturers to extend the shelf life of vaccines based on updated scientific data such as updated stability studies.”

“We will also continue and even intensify or innovate in the measures meant to increase coverage of both the primary series and booster doses, and where needed, recommend that the Philippines donate excess yet viable doses as an international act of goodwill,” they added.