DOH probes Zamboanga del Sur fire that damaged nearly 150K COVID vaccine doses

Published November 3, 2021, 12:39 PM

by Analou de Vera

Vials of COVID-19 vaccines. (Keith Bacongco/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Department of Health (DOH) said it will investigate the fire incident in a vaccine storage in Zamboanga del Sur that damaged almost 150,000 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses.

“It’s being investigated and we want to pinpoint accountability. Ano bang nangyari dito (What happened here),” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) reported that a fire broke out at the Provincial Health Office of Zamboanga del Sur on Oct. 31. The building “also served as the provincial cold chain storage facility for COVID-19 vaccines allocated for 26 municipalities and one component city.”

The NTF said that the fire destroyed a total of 148,678 vaccine doses: 88,938 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, 36,164 doses of Sinovac, 14,400 doses of Moderna, and 9,176 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines. Also, other routine immunization vaccines allocated for the province were destroyed.

Duque said that the vaccines were supposed to already have been distributed in the different cities and municipalities.

“If it’s an accident, they can explain that but what might be difficult to explain is why 150,000 thereabouts doses of vaccines were not distributed on time,” said Duque.

“This is a question that I suspect they will struggle to answer. Because 150,000 should have been already deployed to the cities and municipalities. And they should have already been jabbed,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NTF assured residents of Zamboanga del Sur on Tuesday that the government “will replenish all the damaged vaccines, especially those meant for citizens who are scheduled to get their second dose soon. The vaccine doses will be shipped immediately as soon as the new cold storage is ready for use.“