Concepcion, Drilon concerned over ₱13B worth of expiring COVID-19 vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) — Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon are expressing their concern over possible waste of multi-billion peso fund used to buy COVID-19 vaccines in the event they reach the expiration date without being administered.

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

Concepcion on Monday made note of 27 million COVID-19 vaccines procured by the national government and the private sector, and set to expire in July.

He said he has advised the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to require proof of booster shots for people entering establishments by June or July to encourage more fully vaccinated Filipinos to get their third dose.

"What was very important is that we should not waste them. These 27 million vaccines, that's about my estimate that ten dollars each, that's 270-million dollars," he told CNN Philippines.

Drilon slammed the IATF and the Department of Health for what he called a "callous disregard" for the money of taxpayers. He implied that such large sum of money could have been used instead to augment the fuel subsidy for PUV drivers and operators affected by the astronomical increase in oil prices.

"More than two years into the pandemic, the IATF still manages to mismanage the government's response to the pandemic. It is unconscionable that the vaccines that were purchased through loans could end up in the garbage. It is criminal neglect if they let that happen," Drilon said in a statement on Sunday.

The government is struggling to encourage fully vaccinated Filipinos to receive their booster shots to increase their protection against COVID-19.

Over 65.8 million individuals in the country are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, only 12 million have received the booster dose.