In the latest government data revealed during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, the total wastage of COVID-19 vaccines has surged to 49.7 million doses since the onset of the pandemic.
During the hearing, Pia Cayetano, the budget sponsor for the Department of Health (DOH), reported that a substantial portion of this wastage, specifically 38.54 million doses, had expired without utilization.
Providing an estimate during the session, Minority Leader Sen. Koko Pimentel approximated the monetary value of the vaccine wastage at ₱24.865 billion, considering a cost of ₱500 per dose.
Cayetano underscored the brevity of the shelf life of COVID vaccines, emphasizing that it lasts only six months, with the donated doses having an even shorter duration of three months.
Out of the 49.7 million wasted doses, 26.2 million were contributions from other countries, while the government had procured 23.7 million shots, as stated by the senator.
This information, Cayetano clarified, was part of a DOH report scrutinizing the nation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, submitted to the Office of the Executive Secretary. However, she noted that the report lacked a financial breakdown of the total pandemic-related expenditures.
Additionally, the senator clarified that the country does not plan to purchase COVID-19 vaccines in the 2024 budget. Instead, the government is set to accept 500,000 doses donated by COVAX.