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DOH: COVAX to replace all expiring, expired COVID-19 vaccine doses

The COVAX facility has committed to replace all expired and expiring COVID-19 vaccine doses in the country, including those procured by the private sector and the local government units, the Department of Health officer in charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire said on Tuesday.

Vergeire made the remark when asked about updates as regards the P5.1 billion worth of vaccine doses which were procured by the private sector and which have expired.

“We had an agreement with the COVAX facility, that these will all be replaced... Even those that have expired from the private sector and the local government units, the vaccines, papalitan po ng COVAX facility,” Vergeire said at a press briefing.

Vergeire said that the replacement of the expired vaccines would be scheduled and would be done once the current vaccine supply of the country in warehouses had been exhausted.

“We are scheduling our replacement doon po sa time na kakailanganin natin itong mga replaced doses na dahil sa ngayon, sufficient pa po ang bakuna natin [our vaccine supply is still currently sufficient],” Vergeire said.

COVAX is a global initiative for equitable vaccines distribution. It is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the vaccine alliance Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Former presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion has said the inability of the private sector to administer the doses on time was due to the delay in the Health Technology Assessment Council's (HTAC) approval of the second booster vaccination for Filipinos aged 50 years and older, and for adults with comorbidities.

This was, however, refuted by DOH Technology Advisory Group’s Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, saying that the issue stemmed from the “gaps” in the rollout of the primary vaccine series and booster doses.

Based on DOH’s latest data, 71.9 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 16.6 million have received their booster shots. —NB, GMA News