Philippines may have lost P22 billion from wasted COVID-19 vaccines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2022 02:28 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2022 04:15 PM

Empty chairs are seen at a vaccination site in in Marikina City on July 22, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Empty chairs are seen at a vaccination site in in Marikina City on July 22, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines may have lost lost P22 billion after 44 million of its COVID-19 vaccines went to waste, which the Department of Health said was mainly caused by short shelf life.

This is if each coronavirus jab is priced at P500, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

"Dun sa kuwenta, we do not have the exact amount of how much because of the non-disclosure agreements," she said in a press briefing. 

"But what we do... for planning purposes, we assume na P500 across the board ang mga bakuna."

Last week, the health agency disclosed that the number of wasted COVID-19 vaccines in the country has reached 44 million or 17.5 percent.

Some 24 million doses have expired due to short life span while 3.8 million others were from "operational wastage". The agency is still determining the cause of the other wasted vaccines.

Majority of the wasted jabs or 75 percent were procured by the private sector and local governments. 

2 TYPES OF VACCINE WASTAGE

In the briefing, Vergeire said there are two types of vaccine wastage — open vial wastage and closed vial wastage.

Vaccine wastage in opened vials occurs when there are few vaccine recipients or incorrect needles are used, Vergeire said.

Meanwhile, closed vial wastage occurs when there is temperature excursion or due to natural disaster, she said.

"Most of the wastage would be coming from expired vaccines because of short shelf life," Vergeire said. The first mass produced vaccines had a shelf life of less than a year.

The public's vaccine hesitancy and complacency are also key factors, she said.

She noted that the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines started to wane in the first quarter of 2022.

"With this kind of shelf life tapos bumaba 'yung uptake natin, mas madali nasira ang ating mga bakuna," Vergeire said.

She stressed that vaccine wastage is happening globally. The World Health Organization has raised the threshold of vaccine wastage at 30 percent.

As of Dec. 4, more than 73.6 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of the figure, some 20.9 million have received their first boosters.

The DOH on Monday started its 3-day nationwide vaccination drive to increase booster uptake and vaccination coverage among children aged 5 to 11.

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