Oversupply of vaccines? LGUs told to coordinate amid concerns of 'panic buying'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2021 06:23 PM

An employee picks up a vial containing CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Butantan biomedical production center in Sao Paulo, Brazil on January 12, 2021. Amanda Perobelli, Reuters

MANILA – Local government units (LGU) should coordinate their procurement of vaccines with the national government to avoid a scenario in which shots would be wasted due to excessive supply. 

In a Senate hearing Friday, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian raised concerns over what he perceived as LGU's "panic buying" COVID-19 shots from different pharmaceutical giants. 

"Kasi para pong nagkakaroon ng panic buying and everyone wants to secure their vaccines and at the end baka nagdodoble-doble... I just want to make sure na meron tayong mechanism," Gatchalian asked officials as the Senate probes into the government's inoculation roadmap.

Gatchalian thought of a scenario that would see the private sector and LGUs both procuring vaccines for the same people, resulting in a surplus.

"The private sectors are booking vaccines. And I’m quite confused because sa LGUs meron din, like kami sa Valenzuela City meron kaming 400,000 doses [na in-order] but then yung private sector namin kumukuha din po sila. How do you reconcile that?" the senator, whose brother is Valenzuala City's mayor, asked vaccine authorities. 

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it has considered such a scenario and has issued a memorandum that addressed Gatchalian's concern a few days ago.

"We already issued an advisory 3 to 4 days ago to all LGU, municipalities and component cities... They have to coordinate with their provincial government for purposes of consolidation," DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said, adding that said mechanism would prevent confusing vaccine makers. 

"They will have integrated orders through provincial governors so hindi po maguluhan yung manufacturers," he added, saying LGUs have been ordered to generate a master list of individuals to be prioritized for inoculation. 

The private sector, meanwhile, was urged to get in touch with LGUs, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said. 

"Idaan po sa LGUs ang mga orders because at the end it’s the LGUs who will implement the inoculation program . . . They should have private public partnership at the local level," Galvez said.

Concerned with oversupply, Densing cited an article he read saying France had wasted "30 percent of its procured vaccines."

"It occurred in other countries... Merong bumili at nasayang po ang mga bakuna... Sa France 30 percent of their procured vaccine turned into waste kasi po hindi nagamit," Densing said. 

In the end, Galvez assured that LGUs and private sectors need not worry because it is the national government duty to procure vaccines for all Filipinos.

"Ang sinasabi po namin na LGUs na the President (Rodrigo Duterte) has already ordered us to procure vaccines for every Filipino," Galvez said.

Amid concerns of oversupply, no COVID-19 vaccine has officially been delivered in the Philippines. 

Galvez said the Philippines will get its first 50,000 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac Biotech in February. 

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