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Philippines investigating alleged 'wasted' AstraZeneca vaccine doses

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The Department of Health (DOH) is looking into reports that thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses were wasted due to freezer issues while they were being transported in Bicol.

Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire made the disclosure after she was asked in a briefing to respond to the comment of Senator Nancy Binay as regards the wasted AstraZeneca doses.

“There has been this investigation or query that has been done dito po sa isang region natin kung saan nagkaroon ng isyu dito sa transport nitong mga bakunang ito. Atin pong iniimbestigahan,” Vergeire said in a briefing.

[There has been this investigation or query that has been done in the region where the transportation issue of the vaccines occurred. We are investigating.]

Vergeire said she had no further details as regards the more than 7,000 doses reported spoiled.

GMA News Online has reached out to DOH Bicol for comment.

“Nakakabahala ‘yung balita na lumabas kahapon na merong 7,500 AstraZeneca vaccines sa Bicol ang mukhang hindi magagamit simply because of some freezer failure,” Binay said in a statement.

[The news that came out yesterday about the 7,500 AstraZeneca vaccines in Bicol that can no longer be used simply because of some freezer failure is alarming.]

Binay said that a third-party logistics hired by the DOH had a faulty thermometer.

“So, nagdududa sila na apektado ang efficacy and potency ng bakuna at malamang sira na ang mga ito,” the senator said.

[They suspected that the efficacy and potency of the vaccines were affected and that these were probably defective.]

“Dahil sa kapabayaan, technically, about 7,500 people have been denied of life-saving vaccines… Given the shortage of vaccines, these kinds of mishandling are totally unacceptable,” she added.

Vaccines 'usable'

In a message to reporters, the DOH later said that the temperature device was “faulty” but that the vaccines are in “usable condition.”

“We have yet to receive the official report on this but preliminary findings show that the temperature device was faulty and the vaccines remain in usable condition,” the DOH said in a separate statement.

It added that further details will be given on Thursday.

DOH data show that a total of 508,332 people in the Philippines have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of March 23.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has reported 684,311 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of whom 579,518 have recovered and 13,039 have died. -NB/BM, GMA News

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