DOH assures safe disposal of wasted COVID-19 vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public on Thursday that the disposal of wasted COVID-19 vaccines is safe.
“The vaccines that we have procured or the vaccines for COVID-19 that we have in the country are all non-live, meaning all of these vaccines, their components had been modified, including mRNA, so the probability or the risk of having this kind of transmission even after it is buried is very, very minimal,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.
“As far as the Department of Health is concerned, based from the standards given by the environmental bureau, the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), and the process for which this is being stored and disposed of, we can say that it is safe,” added Vergeire.
DENR Environmental Management Bureau’sHazardous Waste Management chief Gerry Sañes noted that the vaccines undergo thermal decomposition.
“It is being treated through thermal decomposition by pyrolysis by the Integrated Waste Management Incorporated (IWMI) situated in Barangay Aguado, Trece Martires,” Sañes said.
Vergeire further explained that the waste turned into ashes and chars will end up in a landfill in Tarlac.
“The process of this pyrolysis would include transforming all of these waste into gaseous components and then these gaseous component in turn becomes transformed into ashes and chars. Then after that, it is placed in drums and sealed tightly. Then after which it is brought to the landfill in Tarlac, which is also an accredited landfill,” she pointed out.
“Nowhere in this process should there be any gaps so that it will not affect the population or the communities surrounding this area where we do this,” she added.
Senator Francis Tolentino, panel chairperson, however, still expressed concern on the public’s safety.
Vergeire then reassured the senator that the measures undertaken will not threaten the public’s health.
According to IWMI president Chito Pacheco, they have collected almost 700 tons of COVID-19 vaccine waste to date.
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