COA clears DOH officials over P3.5B dengue vaccine

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The Commission on Audit has cleared former officials of the Department of Health (DOH) in connection with the purchase of P3.5 billion worth of Dengvaxia, a vaccine against dengue.

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COA supervising auditor Marietta Andoy, during the joint probe of the House Good Government/Public Accountability and Health panels, said there was nothing irregular in the process followed by the DOH, the department of Budget and Management and the Philippine Childrens’ Medical Center in allocating P3.5 billion for the project addressing the dengue outbreaks in many areas in the country.

“We accepted it as authorized,” Andoy said.

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin earlier justified the project, saying the vaccines came cheap.

“Our basis is WHO (World Health Organization). Three other countries purchased the vaccine, I believe Thailand, Mexico and Brazil, and we still procured it at the cheapest price. You can check it,” Garin said.

The vaccine had been administered to nearly 500,000 elementary school students. The project was stopped because some lawmakers questioned the legality of the purchase since only one bidder, pharmaceutical distributor Zuellig, participated in the bidding.

Sanofi chief communications officer Gerardo Paez, however, clarified during the probe that Sanofi inked a memorandum of agreement with Zuellig—a pact that granted Zuellig the exclusive right to distribute Sanofi’s products. Llanesca T. Panti

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