MANILA — The Senate’s investigation into the expired COVID vaccines in the country will continue even though the COVAX facility has already said it will replace the supplies it donated.
This is according to Senator Risa Hontiveros, who had sought the Senate committee on health’s investigation amid reports that the cost of volumes of expired and unused vaccines now run P23-27 billion.
Such reported wastage must not happen again, the senator said.
The investigation is necessary because having stale vaccines only means that lapses were committed by some quarters, she said.
"May nagpabaya, kaya kailangan may managot. Inaksaya nito hindi lamang pera, pero pati oras at resources ng ating national vaccination program. Those responsible for the wastage can’t just rely on COVAX to clean up their mess,” Hontiveros said.
(There was negligence, so someone should be held accountable. This not only resulted in a waste of money, but also in a waste of time and resources of the national vaccination program.)
The senator has also expressed support for the call of acting Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire for both houses of Congress to amend the Vaccination Program Act, particularly, the provisions that would end the government’s authority to continue its COVID vaccination program the moment the declaration of State of Calamity expires in September.
She said the law should also set punishments on those who are remiss in their duty to carry out the vaccination program.
Sen. Christopher Go, chairman of the Senate health committee, said the panel’s August 15 hearing will not just center on the issue of expired vaccines, but also on the government’s preparedness in combatting monkeypox and other diseases entering the country.
As for the government’s COVID response, the committee will check how many vaccines were already utilized, including the volume of booster shots already administered.
Another agenda of the said hearing is to determine if there is a need to lower or heighten the current COVID alert level, Go said.