DOH, NTF working to ensure syringe supply, deny Moderna vax offer was nixed
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 assured on Sunday that they are continuously ensuring the sufficient supply of syringes for COVID-19 vaccines, and clarified that Moderna vaccines were not rejected by the government.
The DOH and NTF issued a joint statement after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said on Saturday that the government “dropped the ball again” on an offer for 50 million vaccine syringes.
“We dropped the ball again; this time offer of 50 million syringes. Discussed the need in Washington DC and got a response prepared to go into details with PH agencies but they refused to discuss the ball let alone catch it. First Pfizer, then Moderna. Ok, I see the pattern,” Locsin said in a tweet.
The DOH and the NTF, however, assured that they are working to ensure a sufficient supply of syringes—both the 0.3ml syringes or micro-syringes that are compatible with Pfizer vaccines, and 0.5ml auto-disable (AD) syringes for all other vaccines.
According to the two government bodies, two batches of syringe procurement were already undertaken through Unicef. The first batch, funded through savings from Unicef procurement last year, included 8 million 0.3ml syringes worth P29.1 million which were delivered last October 2021. The second batch, financed through the Asian Development Bank, consisted of 44 million syringes amounting P152.6 million.
“Of this second batch, 4 million will be delivered in December 2021 and the remaining 40 million during the first quarter of 2022 due to global supply shortage. As of today, 3,653,000 syringes out of the 4 million have already been delivered and the rest is expected this coming week,” the joint statement read.
The DOH and NTF said that the two batches of procurement through Unicef totaled 52 million 0.3 syringes at around P3.25 per piece or USD 6.5 cents, which includes the cost for logistics.
The DOH added that it also procured 100 million pieces of 0.5ml AD syringes in April 2021 at 2.38 per piece, from an initial approved budget of P2.50 per piece.
“Thus, PhP 2.38 per piece or USD 4.8 cents (PhP 50 = USD 1) was used as a basis for the ongoing emergency procurement of another batch of 50 million pieces of 0.5ml AD syringes,” the agency said.
Meanwhile, the DOH and NTF stressed that the government did not reject any Moderna vaccine offered to the country. They said the Philippines, in fact, received 3 million Moderna vaccines from the United States through the Covax Facility last August 3, and that the Vaccine Cluster did not get other offers for Moderna jabs.
“For the record, we have not rejected any Moderna vaccines that were offered to the Philippine government. These vaccines are essential in achieving our goal of providing additional protection to Filipinos against COVID-19,” said NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr.
“It is towards saving more lives and defeating the pandemic that the whole of government and the entire nation should work together,” he added.
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