By Sandra Cabangon

The Department of Health (DOH) estimated more than 31 million COVID-19 vaccines, amounting to ₱15.6 billion, have gone to waste as of November 2022.

Photo Courtesy of Reuters/DOH

During the Senate deliberations on the DOH’s proposed budget last November 17,  31.3 million vaccines were identified as “wastages,” accounting for 12% of the 250.38 million doses that the government has received. 

Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed her concern over the country’s vaccine wastage rate, stating that the number of jabs wasted as of this month is almost 11 million higher than the reported 20.7 million wastage in August.

"Nakakalungkot lang na sa tatlong buwang pagitang 'yan, tumaas pa sa 12% kahit pasok pa rin sa 25% ceiling ng WHO. Nadagdagan pa ng 11 million doses na nasayang pa three months later," Hontiveros said.

Meanwhile, Senator Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the proposed DOH budget for next year, pointed out that one of the reasons for the wastage was the short life spans of the COVAX-funded vaccines. 

Cayetano also cited natural disasters and temperature excursions as causes of vaccine wastages.

"And then there were also those that were subject to natural disasters, there were those that were subject to temperature excursion[s]... There's a thing such as underdosing," the senator said during the deliberations.

Cayetano added that the Philippines had a lot of donated vaccines, and as recipients, the country does not have control over their expiration dates but they will still fall under the country’s inventory.

Moreover, the senator mentioned that 300,000 wasted COVAX vaccines have already been replaced.

The World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX previously vowed to replace at least 10.5 million wasted COVID-19 vaccines to be delivered by month, starting December this year.

Edited by Audrei Jeremy Mendador