PH now has 'oversupply' of vaccines; shelf life of some doses extended

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 15) — The Philippines now has an "oversupply" of COVID-19 doses in the country and the government continues to double down its effort to get everyone vaccinated, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday.

According to Vergeire, the country's current vaccine supply has exceeded the committed deliveres the government was expecting this year alone.

"Pag tiningnan natin, sobra-sobra na ang bakuna natin," she said. "We are still trying to encourage everybody to get their vaccines even their booster doses kasi meron na ho tayong oversupply sa ngayon."

[Translation: If we look at it, we already have an oversupply of vaccines. We are still trying to encourage everybody to get their vaccines even their booster doses because we already have an oversupply now.]

The National Task Force on COVID-19 said there are 166,851,720 doses that have been shipped to the Philippines as of Tuesday. Over 24 million more doses are expected to arrive this week alone.

Vergeire said the country is also not having any problems with its central storage since the delivered doses are immediately distributed to local government units. Spoilage depends on donated doses that may have had shorter shelf life than the ones that were procured by the government.

Shelf life of some vaccines extended

Vergeire bared that the country's Food and Drug Administration is working with vaccine manufacturers like AstraZeneca for a possible extension of the shelf life of some doses to avoid wastage.

She said the shelf life of a batch of Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines were extended earlier this year.

The six-month extension for a batch of Pfizer doses was granted last June, but Vergeire explained that this approval does not necessary apply to the whole vaccine supply in the country since the FDA did not submit any other revised emergency use authorization for the other shipped doses.

"It will depend on the batches of these vaccines," she noted. "It is not going to be the entire procurement or the entire supply of the vaccines given to us. Specific batches of vaccines."

The government hopes to administer seven million doses this week in the second round of its nationwide immunization program, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates.

Some areas have postponed their mass inoculation to Dec. 20 to 22 amid the threat of Typhoon "Odette."

READ: Govt suspends 2nd 'Bayanihan, Bakunahan' in some regions due to storm 'Odette'