Over P15 billion is a lot of money. That is the amount that the National Government reportedly lost due to the wastage of 31 million Covid-19 vaccine doses.
The purchase of vaccines started in former President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, which had nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) with the suppliers. The NDAs are the reason why the Department of Health (DOH) has not divulged to the public the specific details on the vaccine wastage.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go has supported the calls to make public the NDAs and hold a Senate inquiry on the vaccine wastage, saying he is for transparency. The Duterte-allied lawmaker, who also chairs the Senate health committee, said the DOH must explain why the vaccine doses were wasted due to logistical issues.
The vaccine wastage came up during the recent Senate marathon deliberations on the DOH’s more than P320 billion budget that the agency proposed for 2023.
Sen. Pia Cayetano said the wasted vaccines were only 12 percent of the 30 percent vaccine wastage threshold set by the World Health Organization.
However, Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III could not accept the vaccine wastage because the taxpayers’ money had been involved in the matter.
Senator Go must push through with the inquiry and find out the reasons why P15 billion worth of vaccine doses went “down the drain,” as Senator Pimentel puts it.
Fault-finding is a trademark of Senate inquiries, but the health committee’s probe must also produce solutions on how to avoid this kind of problem in the future. That’s a must.
Vaccines have been proven to stop, or at least minimize, the spread of viral diseases and save human lives.
There will be viral epidemics in the future, and one of these epidemics could become another pandemic.
Science and vaccines will again play their roles in preserving lives when public health crises arrive.
In the meantime, the Philippine Senate must play its role to ferret out the truth on the wasted vaccines.