After the Department of Health (DOH) submitted to the Commission on Audit (COA) all documents related to the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, the state audit body revealed some “adverse findings,” including the P24 billion receipts of procured items that were not recorded.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on Tuesday on the DOH’s failure to release the details of the Covid-19 vaccine procurement contracts under the non-disclosure agreement (NDA), Dir. Jocelyn Ramos of COA said that the DOH failed to record the receipt of procured items amounting to P24 billion.
“This is CY or Calendar Year 2020-2021. It did not cover 2022,” Ramos said during the hearing wherein she was asked by Sen. Francis Tolentino, Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, to share some of the salient points observed after the DOH submitted to them the documents.
It may be noted that in December last year, DOH officer -in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire personally submitted to the COA office the documents that they were asked to submit on the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Another observation, is the variances on the distributed vaccines which cost P 9 billion
Ramos said that the records of the DOH is different from the confirmation of the actual recipients.
The COA official also said that they have already identified the possible areas that “it can be improved” by the DOH.
“We’d like to work it out with the DOH on what they are going to do with their processes so that these things do not happen again,” Ramos said.
Tolentino then responded, “That is what we are trying to achieve here.”
Likewise, Ramos said that they also found some “disadvantages” on the supply agreement but did not elaborate further.
On the part of the DOH, they said that they already have some “reconciliations” done in 2022 to avoid the situations in 2020-2021 from happening again.
Dr. Maria Joyce Ducusin of the DOH supply chain andmanagement service said that there were 44 million doses wastage recorded as of December 2 ,2022.
These vaccines are:
Sinovac -1.4 million doses
AstraZeneca- 11.0 million doses
Gamaleya-1.7 million doses
Pfizer (adult) – 2.5 million doses
Pfizer (pedia)-669,548 doses
Moderna -11 million doses
Janssen -3.3 million doses
Sinopharm -1.3 million doses
Sputnik – 2.9 million doses
Ducusin said that there were also 12.1 million doses which came from the Centers for Health Development and local government units but no brands were indicated.
To avoid wastage, Tolentino asked if the vaccines that are set to expire can be extended, to which, Ducusin answered, “The extension is being applied through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
“And this will depend on the studies, the feasibility studies, being submitted by the manufacturer that is submitted to the FDA,” Ducusin said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Robin Padilla asked if there are vaccines that are set to expire, Ducusin said, of the 15,972,740 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines currently in the national storage, there are those that will expire based of the Emergency Use Authorization.
“May February, March, April, September, and October. February -Pfizer adults, March-Pfizer pedia and adults, April -Pfizer pedia, May, September, and October Sinovac,” Ducusin said.
Padilla then asked what would be the action that they will take to prevent wastage of the expiring vaccines.
Dr. Anthony Cu of the DOH said that they will coordinate with the manufacturer or supplier to submit to the FDA an application to extend the shelf life of the vaccine.
“[We are] trying to come up with a campaign to intergrate [the Covid-19 vaccine] sa routine national immunization program,” he said explaining that Covid-19 vaccine may be recommended by a health practitioner or health worker and they can eventually do away with the program like Resbakuna which only promotes Covid -19 vaccination.
Meanwhile, Tolentino has expressed worries if the effective Covid-19 vaccination waste management is being observed.
“Where do we dump these [expired Covid vaccines] including the vials? Where do we throw these away?” Tolentino asked as he worries that improper disposal may have bad effects to the health and the environment.
“Baka makadagdag pa ‘to sa climate change kung itapon na lang natin?” he added.
However, Ducusin assured, before the vaccination campaign against Covid started they have already identified the mechanisms.
Ducusin said that there is a third party who will do the “reverse logistics” which include the pick up of vaccines, either empty or not, for disposal.
” May procedure na nakalagay sa guidelines…” she said.
With this, Tolentino said that he will invite a representative from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the next hearing to enlighten them with regard to such concern.