Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said contracts on the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines should now be made public.
Following reports of vaccine wastage, Go said the public has the right to know how much public funds were spent on the COVID-19 vaccines for the sake of transparency.
Earlier, Sen. Pia Cayetano said about P15.6 billion worth of vaccines against COVID-19, or 31.1 million doses were wasted.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the fact remains that the rate of vaccine wastage keeps on increasing. She cited a steady trend of waste which means that efforts to curb it have been ineffective so far. “Even if the WHO adjusted the threshold, we cannot afford the cost,” she said.
According to Go, all contracts entered by the Philippine government should be made public if these contracts won’t violate a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Go said some of the contracts from the previous administration have an NDA. Because of this, the amount spent by the government to purchase the different brands of COVID-19 vaccines are yet to be made public.
The Commission on Audit (COA) said they have not yet scrutinized the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines during the last 2 years.
While he had attended some meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 as chairperson of the Senate committee on health, Go said he has not yet seen the NDA. He also does not know if former President Rodrigo Duterte who was with him during those times saw the NDA concerning the prices of vaccines.
If there is a need to inquire into the contract and NDA on COVID-19 vaccines, Go assured he can call a Senate inquiry and summon all the members of the Cabinet and the IATF involved in the procurement of vaccines.
Asked if the Department of Health (DOH) has a liability, Go said they will find out in the case of a Senate investigation on the matter. Go also attributed the wastage to “vaccine hesistancy.” He noted that the public is already contented with the primary doses of vaccines, failing to get booster shots. He related that only 26% of the eligible population got their booster shot while 74% did not. Only 4% of the eligible population availed of the second booster shots.