March 2, 2024

The Department of Health manifested its commitment to proactively uphold accountability and transparency in the country’s Covid-19 vaccine procurements.
Dring the initial public hearing held by the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said they will continue to exhaust all efforts to ensure vaccine wastage among national government-procured vaccines remains minimal.
The DOH emphasized the Covid-19 vaccine procurement portfolio is extensive, requiring a broad range of highly-specialized skills exclusively carried by specific government agencies.
As such, facilitating the procurement process – from negotiations until the delivery and rollout of the procured doses – requires a whole-of-government approach, with different agencies leading different components of the process through identified task groups as specified under DOH Administrative Order 2021-0005 or the National Strategic Policy Framework for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment and Immunization.
The DOH said it has always been willing to provide information on vaccine procurement, in response to issues surrounding its alleged refusal to provide the said information to Congress and the Commission on Audit due to the non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
The DOH reiterated it has, in fact, been proactive in requesting for the conduct of a special audit for the Covid-19 vaccine procurements, as evidenced by official DOH correspondences to COA as early as 2021.
Despite the NDAs posing a potential hurdle to full disclosure, the DOH clarified the DOH and NTF will comply with COA audit requirements.
The agency explained disclosing information covered by the confidentiality agreements without explicit consent from the manufacturers has legal as well as public health repercussions.
Such disclosure may result in manufacturers’ loss of confidence, which may, in turn, harm the country’s future prospects to be prioritized or even to secure life-saving vaccines and other products for Filipinos.
The DOH, as early as 2021, has coordinated with vaccine manufacturers to secure their consent to disclose information and enable procurement audits free from legal liability.
Of the manufacturers engaged by the government, AstraZeneca and Pfizer have given their consent for DOH to disclose information under specific terms.
The DOH also reiterated its commitment to ensure that vaccine wastage is minimized and taxpayer money is well-spent and accounted for.
Following recent reports that millions of doses of vaccines stocks have expired, the DOH noted bulk of the wastage comes from procurements made by the private sector (44.82 percent) and local government units (33.35 percent).
On the other hand, out of the total vaccines procured by the national government financed through general appropriations and loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the DOH revealed that only 2.02 percent (2.7 million out of 134 million) of the total number of procured vaccines have expired.
The DOH underscored this sits well below the globally recognized maximum allowable vaccine wastage rate of 25 percent set by GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, and may even be viewed as being significantly lower relative to vaccine wastage rates recorded in other countries, which go as high as 30 percent.
The DOH also said 10.95 percent of the country’s total accumulated expired vaccines was donated through the Covax facility.
It has secured the commitment of the Covax facility to replace expired doses with bivalent vaccines which better contribute to vaccination efforts.
While the DOH noted vaccine wastage is inevitable, the agency continues to implement strategies to reduce the occurrence of wastage by employing effective supply chain management and boosting vaccination rates amidst low vaccine uptake. – Press release