Senator Francis Tolentino has raised alarm over the possible dangers of expired vaccines “on the lives of every Filipino and the environment.”
In a statement Sunday, Tolentino said he is not convinced that expired vaccines are already safe and are being burned, despite pronouncements by government agencies.
“Definitely, once it goes to the river, there is still a (bad) effect. As to matter of safety, nobody can still say that they are safe… they are infectious waste,” noted Tolentino, Senate health committee chairperson, who conducted the fourth and last hearing on the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in the procurement of anti-COVID-19 vaccines.
He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has yet to conduct a study on the ill effects of disposing of expired COVID-19 vaccines, which could reach up to 60 million doses by the end of the year.
While Tolentino said there is still no total cost of the expired vaccines, he has already directed the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee secretariat to make the proper computations.
Apart from the DENR, he said the private contractor in charge of burning the expired vaccines also has no studies on the effects of burying them in landfills.
At present, the Department of Health has one landfill in Cavite and another in Tarlac.
He said all these need to be reassessed since even the Commission on Audit has not yet factored in the negative effects of vaccines on the environment.
Environmental safety, Tolentino said, will be the focal point of his recommendations after his committee wraps up the final hearing of the expired vaccines.