MANILA — The shelf life for some expired COVID-19 vaccine doses in the Philippines was extended, which would allow authorities to use up existing inventory, the Department of Health said on Tuesday.
"Sumulat po tayo, nakipag-ugnayan sa Pfizer. Iyong kanilang mga nag-expire ay in-extend nila. Matapos nilang isinagawa ang stability studies ng kanilang bakuna, in-extend nila by 3 months," said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
(We wrote to, coordinated with Pfizer. They extended their vaccines which expired. After doing stability studies on their vaccine, they extended by 3 months.)
He did not say how many vaccines were covered by the extended expiry date.
Duque said he talked with AstraZeneca representatives on Monday about possibly extending the shelf life of their vaccine, too.
"Ganoon din ang gagawin nila, titingnan nila kung ito bang mga nag-expire na kakaunti naman— hindi naman karamihan, I believe less than 1 percent na nag-expire—titingnan kung puwede rin itong i-extend na hindi mababawasan ang kaniyang pagiging effective and iyong safety niya ay nasisiguro," he said in a televised public briefing.
(They will do the same, they will see if the expired vaccines—these are just a few, I believe less than 1 percent expired—they will see if these could be extended without lessening its effectivity, while ensuring its safety.)
Duque did not say why the vaccines expired without being used.
The DOH last Friday said it was "finalizing" the report on expiring COVID-19 shots.
"Tinitingnan natin saan ito at ano iyong mga kadahilanan at hindi nai-jab ito," said DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, chairperson of the National Vaccination Operations Center.
(We are looking at where these vaccines are and the reasons that they were not jabbed.)
Around 14,000 AstraZeneca doses recently expired in Negros Occidental and were not used in its vaccination drive.
Video courtesy of PTV
Since March, the Philippines has administered 91.7 million vaccine doses overall, including some 56.7 million first jabs, Duque told President Rodrigo Duterte in a taped meeting that aired earlier Tuesday.
At least 38,168,603 people have completed their vaccination, representing 49.48 percent of the 77.1 million target population, said the health chief.
Government eyes fully inoculating 54 million of the target population by the end of the year.
"At naniniwala po kami… na kaya po natin maabot [ito]," Duque told the President.
(We believe we can reach this.)
The Philippines has recorded 2.84 million COVID-19 cases and 49,499 deaths in total.
Daily infections have fallen sharply to below 1,000 since Nov. 24, from a peak of over 20,000 in September, paving the way for a wider economic reopening.
The country has not yet detected a case of Omicron, which the World Health Organization classified as a variant of concern.
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters