Drilon urges gov’t not to put to waste the over 27M unused, nearly-expired Covid-19 vaccines

Published April 3, 2022, 2:59 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Sunday called out the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Covid-19 over the 27 million doses of nearly-expired vaccines at their disposal.

Drilon said he is strongly disappointed and, at the same time, alarmed over what he called “a callous disregard for the taxpayers” as he underscored the need to account for the taxpayers’ money that was used to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines.

“More than two years into the pandemic, the IATF still manages to mismanage the government’s response to the pandemic. It is unconscionable that the vaccines that were purchased through loans could end up in the garbage,” Drilon said in a statement.

“It is criminal neglect if they let that happen. I’d like to remind the DOH and the IATF that it is Juan dela Cruz who will pay for these vaccines,” the Senate minority chief added.

Drilon pointed out that the procurement of millions of COVID-19 vaccines had raised the country’s debt stock from P9-trillion pre-pandemic to P12-trillion as of February 2022.

At P500 per dose, he said, the government is throwing away P13.5-billion if the 27 million doses are not administered within the next three months.

Such amount, he pointed out, could have been used instead to augment the financial assistance for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators affected by the recent oil price increases.

The minority leader said the government should not allow the doses to go to waste, considering a huge number of Filipinos have not yet received their booster shots.

“I hope we are not resting on our laurels. The coronavirus is still within our midst. We must ramp up our vaccination efforts. We have 27 million doses of vaccines that are close to their expiration dates. The DOH and IATF should distribute in the most efficient manner,” Drilon stressed.

“Huwag naman nating ipamana sa susunod na administrasyon ang expired na bakuna (I hope they won’t give these expired vaccines as an ‘inheritance’ to the next administration),” he said.