45K vials of COVID-19 vaccines acquired by city have expired 

(Photo courtesy of Leo S. Solinap)

By Gerome Dalipe IV

Some 45,216 vials of COVID-19 vaccines procured by the Iloilo City Government in 2021 were not used, which resulted in the expiration of these vaccines.

In its annual audit report for 2022, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the COVID-19 vaccines were not fully utilized prior to their expiration due to an oversupply of vaccines downloaded from the Department of Health, Asian Development Bank, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility and other private entities.

State auditors said the city’s target population has lost interest after their first booster, thus, resulting in the expiration of 66,515 vials of vaccines.

“The experience in the oversupply of vaccines, although it was because of the unprecedented circumstance of addressing the pandemic, should be noted to avoid the same situation in the future,” read the COA report.

The review of the status of COVID-19 vaccines received and utilized from March 2021 to December 31, 2022, showed the Iloilo City Government had a total of 599,782 vials of supply sourced from their own procurement.

These vaccines were either downloaded from or donated by the DOH and other government agencies, COVAX Facility, ADB, and private entities.

A consolidated report of the General Services Office (GSO) showed that only 509,266 vials were administered, utilized, distributed, or transferred and about 66,515 vials expired.

The City Government did not even accept an additional 5,780 vials of COVID-19 vaccines due to oversupply.

Of the 66,515 expired vials, 67. 98 percent, or about 45, 216 expired COVID-19 vaccines came from those procured by the City Government, the state auditors noted.

During the exit conference, the state auditors said the focal person at the General Services Offices explained that the procurement of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines 70 was covered by a multilateral agreement dated January 10, 2021, entered by the Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines Incorporated, the National Government, DOH, and the City Government.

The focal person confirmed that there was an oversupply of COVID-19 vaccines in 2022 because the DOH along with the ADB, COVAX Facility, and other private entities downloaded and donated large quantities of vials.

Subsequently, the target population was given options on what vaccines they would be administered. He also added that the target beneficiaries had negative notions about the side effects of AstraZeneca, thus, among the vaccines, it was the population’s least preference.

He also said that they coordinated with the DOH on the remedies and mitigation of the expired vaccines, if it is feasible that those vaccines be replaced considering that it is also one of the parties in the multi-lateral agreement.

“To this date, the DOH has not provided a clear and unequivocal plan or actions on the expired vaccines,” the COA report said.

The City Government has sought the guidance of the COA on whether or not they should pay for the unused expired vaccines.

In their report, the state auditors recommended that the City Government direct the General Service Officer and coordinate with the City Legal Office to request the DOH for a specific plan on how to address the expired COVID-19 vaccines.

The COA also reminded the City Government to ensure close coordination with national government agencies and other donors and take into consideration the status and supply of vaccines before accepting a donation.

Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 1445 states that all resources of the government shall be managed, expended, or utilized in accordance with law and regulations, and safeguarded against loss or wastage through illegal or improper disposition, with a view to ensuring efficiency, economy, and effectiveness in the operations of government.