Pangilinan to FDA: Probe logistics firm that handled returned AstraZeneca vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The logistics firm which handled the AstraZeneca vaccines that were returned due to faulty thermometers should be investigated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan said on Friday.
According to Pangilinan, FDA must check whether the logistics company that moved the vaccines from Metro Manila to Bicol Region is actually accredited to handle the AstraZeneca vials.
Reports on Wednesday showed that 7,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines were returned from Bicol Region to the Department of Health (DOH) office in the National Capital Region due to faulty thermometers, which left regional health officials unsure if the vaccines can even be used.
Eventually, DOH said that the AstraZeneca vaccines are in stable condition, and only the temperatures encountered a problem.
“Sabi ng DOH, ngayong raw, malamang na umabot na ng 700,000 COVID cases natin at 100,000 ang active cases. Tapos mababalitaan nating maaaring nasayang ang libo-libong doses ng bakuna dahil pinayagaan ang hindi lisensyadong logistics company ang mag deliver nito,” Pangilinan claimed.
(According to the DOH, today our COVID cases is most likely to breach 700,000 and the active cases, 100,000. Then we get reports that thousands of doses of vaccines may be lost because an unlicensed logistics company was allowed to deliver them.)
“Kailangang may managot [Somebody should be held accountable],” he added.
According to Pangilinan, it is imperative to check where the error happened and who is liable, as the vaccines are an important opportunity for the Philippines to hurdle the COVID-19 crisis.
He also noted that such opportunities should not be wasted especially since the some of the country’s neighbors are already transitioning to recovery and successful containment of the pandemic.
“Ang ibang bansa ay kontrolado na ang pandemya. Ang Taiwan, walang 1,000 ang COVID cases, di hihigit sa 10 ang namatay. Yesterday, a member of my staff lost his father due to COVID. They were unable to admit him in time because all nearby hospitals have reached maximum capacity,” Pangilinan said.
(Other countries have been able to control the spread of COVID. Taiwan does not have 1,000 COVID cases and not 10 people have died due to the disease.)
“Yung kwento niya, kwento sa maraming bahagi ng bansa. Nawala ng magulang ang anak, nawalan ng anak ang magulang. Mga mahal sa buhay. Katrabaho. Kaibigan,” he added.
(This is a story echoed in many places in the country. Where children lost their parents, and parents lost their children. Loved ones. Colleagues. Friends.)
Currently, the Philippines is pinning its hopes on the COVID-19 vaccines especially with an ongoing surge of cases. Data from the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday showed that the country registered 9,838 additional infections — the fourth time that the Philippines broke the record for new cases in just a week’s span.
Several health experts say that the quick rise in cases is due to the spread of COVID-19 variants of concern, which are more transmissible compared to previous variants. According to analytics group OCTA Research, the country may see around 11,000 new cases if the surge is not stopped.
Pangilinan on the other hand said that FDA and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) must check if the logistics company mismanaged the handling of the vaccines, based on Republic Act No. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.
“The FDA and the IATF must determine if the logistics company involved committed acts in violation of Section 11 of RA 9711,” he insisted.
“The matter must be investigated and if warranted the logistics company be blacklisted,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.