Health professionals say blame game must end over issue of expired Covid-19 vaccines

Published July 31, 2022, 3:14 PM

by Analou de Vera

Coronavirus vaccines have been prepared for distribution at a vaccination site in Manila on May 18, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

An alliance of health workers said the blame game should stop on the issue about the expiration of more than four million Covid-19 vaccine doses procured by the private sector.

“Imbis na magturuan, nananawagan kami sa ating mga kababayan na magsama-sama at magpa-booster na upang magkaroon ng karagdagang proteksiyon, hindi lang para sa sarili, kundi para sa ating mga minamahal (Instead of finger-pointing, we are calling on our citizens to come together and receive their boosters in order to have additional protection, not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones),” the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against Covid-19 (HPAAC) said in a statement.

HPAAC, however, differed with Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion that the Department of Health (DOH) and Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) were the cause why the over 4.2 million vaccine doses worth ₱5.1 billion, procured by the private sector, have expired.

“Isa sa sinasabing dahilan na pagexpire ang mga bakuna ay ang mabagal daw na pagbigay ng recommendation ng Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) ng Department of Health (DOH) para sa second booster. Kung hindi raw dahil dito ay nagamit sana ang mga bakunang nagexpire. Sa aming palagay, hindi po ito tama (One of the reasons cited for the expiration of these vaccines is that the Health Technology Assessment Council and the Department of Health were slow to give a recommendation for the second booster. If not for this, these vaccines would have been used. In our opinion, this is not right),” the HPAAC said.

“Ang problema ay hindi sa ahensya ng gobyernong nagpapatupad lamang ng tamang proseso (The problem is not with these government agencies that are only implementing the correct process),” it added.

HPAAC said that the HTAC’s recommendation for the second booster was not delayed.

“Nagawa nila ito dahil wala pa man ang FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval, sinimulan na nila ang mahirap na review ng datos, at may sapat na batayan na silang nakita para sa desisyon (They were able to issue [a recommendation] as they had already conducted thorough review of the data even prior to the FDA approval, and found enough basis for its decision),” it said.

“Mawawala ang tiwala ng mga tao kung ang expiration date ng bakuna ay gamiting dahilan ng rekomendasyon. Kami ay sumasang-ayon sa HTAC, na dapat base sa siyensiya at ebidensiya ang mga rekomendasyon (The people will lose trust if the expiration date of the vaccine is used as a reason for recommendation. We agree with HTAC, that recommendations should be based on science and evidence),” it added.

HPAAC also noted that these vaccines purchased by the private sector were originally intended for the primary series and first booster vaccination.

“Importanteng malaman ng taumbayan na ang mga bakunang nag-expire ay kabilang pa sa mga unang order ng pribadong sektor na nakalaan para sa primary series at first booster. Hindi ito binili para gamitin bilang second booster. Ibig sabihin, naparami talaga ang supply na nabili (It is important for the people to know that the vaccines that have expired are among the first orders of the private sector which were reserved for the primary series and first booster. These were not procured to be used as a second booster. That means, there was really an oversupply of vaccines purchased),” it said.

“Base sa datos, 10 percent pa lang ng indigent population ang nakatanggap ng first booster, 18 percent pa lamang sa economic sector (A4), at 21 percent ng adult population. Talagang mababa pa ang pagtanggap ng first booster (Based on the data, only 10 percent of the indigent population has received the first booster, only 18 percent in the economic sector (A4), and 21 percent of the adult population. The acceptance of the first booster is really low),” it added.

On July 28, DOH Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary of Public Health Services Team Beverly Ho said they are coordinating with vaccine global sharing platform COVAX in the hopes of replacing these expired vaccines.

Related story:
DOH asks COVAX for possible replacement of expired Covid-19 vaccines bought by private sector

HTAC defends its review actions on Covid-19 vaccines

 
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