SEN. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go on Tuesday, August 3, vowed to immediately call for a public hearing once a resolution filed to investigate reports of unused and expired Covid-19 vaccines is referred to his committee.

He was referring to the resolution filed by Deputy Minority Leader Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros seeking an investigation, in aid of legislation, of the unused and expired vaccines, saying this large-scale wastage should never be tolerated.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go 
Sen. Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go FILE PHOTO

"As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, once the resolution is referred to us, we will immediately conduct a hearing on the status of our Covid-19 response including the reported expiring vaccines," Go said in a statement.

"Pinaghirapan po natin na bilhin iyang mga bakuna laban sa Covid-19. Kaya pagtulungan dapat nating lahat na walang masasayang, at makakarating ang mga ito sa mga kuwalipikadong mga kababayan natin na hindi pa bakunado kahit saan mang sulok ng Pilipinas (We worked hard for the purchase of those vaccines against Covid-19. Together, we must ensure that no vaccine will go to waste and the same should be given to our qualified unvaccinated countrymen wherever they're in the country)," the senator added.

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Former presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria "Joey" Concepcion 3rd said that P5.1 billion worth of vaccines expired in July.

Go urged the government, local government units, community leaders and the private sector to intensify their collaborative efforts in encouraging everyone to get their booster shots in order to keep our communities safe.

"Let's not be confident. Vaccination is the key to our return to normal living," the senator said.

"Also, in line with my filed resolution to look into our preparedness for monkeypox, we will also ask the DoH (Department of Health) on the steps they have taken and inform the public of the necessary health protocols considering the first recorded case of monkeypox in the country. All these issues will be discussed and should be answered by our health authorities and experts during the Committee on Health hearings," Go said.

Hontiveros said that reports that vaccines amounting to almost P5 billion to P13 billion should be looked into.

"Of course, there are vaccines that we know we cannot use due to several reasons. There's really a margin of error," Hontiveros said in Filipino and English. "But in this case, are we saying to easily say goodbye to billions of pesos? It seems we'll be throwing away money and vaccines amid the rising again of Covid-19 cases."

The resolution she filed stated that it is imperative for the government to strive for less Covid-19 vaccine wastage, accurately report vaccine wastage, identify drivers of wastage, and implement effective interventions to reduce it.

The DoH plans to administer booster shots to 11 million to 23 million fully vaccinated individuals within the first 100 days of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s term.

Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda "Imee" Marcos urged the DoH to donate — before they expire — the vaccines to all sectors who need protection from Covid-19.

She said that aside from Moderna, there are remaining Pfizer booster shots which will expire soon.

"'Wag tayong maging kampante, namamayagpag pa rin ang pandemya (We should not be complacent, the pandemic is still ongoing)," Marcos said in a statement.

"Let us protect the health of our fellowmen, distribute the booster shots and not let them rot," she added.