Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) is ready to answer questions about the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine deployment program and face any investigation on wastage of the jabs, a health official said Friday.

In a media forum, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country’s Covid-19 vaccine wastage is less than the 10 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization.

On Wednesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros called for a Senate investigation on expired and unused Covid-19 vaccines which are estimated to cost PHP5 billion to PHP13 billion.

Hontiveros said the DOH, the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the czars under the Duterte administration, must be held for the vaccine wastage as the jabs were procured by the national government.

Ang wastage po ng bakuna ay part ng program ng vaccine deployment. Hindi naman po iyan nawawala sa bawat pagbabakuna, sa bawat programang pinapatupad (The (vaccine) wastage is part of the vaccine deployment program. It is present in every vaccination program implemented),” Vergeire said.

She said “vaccine wastage does not only include expiring vaccines” because there are other factors which lead to it.

Vergeire said vaccines with cracks on their bottles due to delivery or have unwanted particles in them can no longer be given to the public for safety purposes.

The same is true for vaccines that were damaged due to natural calamities or power outages, she said.

Meron din iba na natupok sa pagkasunog sa ibang lugar, meron din naman pong iba nabuksan ‘yung bakuna at hindi dumating yung nagpa-schedule (There were wasted vaccines due to fire as well, and some vaccines were opened but vaccinees did not show up for their inoculation schedule. So, these are parts of the wastage factors that we have),” she added.

As of August 4, data from the Covid-19 vaccination board showed a total of 157,345,576 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered.

Of the tally, 69,346,780 were given as first dose, 71,523,190 as second dose, and 16,475,606 as booster shot.

Vergeire admitted that some vaccines have expired but it will answer queries about these at the right time.

Ayaw natin magbigay ng eksaktong numero kasi habang dumadaan ang araw, we continue with our inventory, ayaw naming paiba-iba ang numero na ibibigay natin especially sa ating mga senador (We don’t want to provide an exact number because we continue our inventory each passing day, and we don’t want to give different numbers, especially to our senators),” she added. (PNA)