Slow decisions led to vax wastage: Garin

The Health Technology Assessment Council should take responsibility for about P15.6 billion worth of Covid-19 vaccines, or 31.3 million doses, which were either wasted or not used, a House leader said Thursday.

As a former Health secretary, House Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin said HTAC, as the Department of Health’s independent advisory council, should have been quick and issued timely recommendations about the Covid vaccines.

This could have prevented vaccine wastage, she said.

The council, established under Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, is responsible for notifying the DoH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation of what health interventions should be implemented.

“One of the painful truths in the Philippines is that every decision of the DoH will first go through the HTAC, which in some cases is appropriate, but there are some situations where the recommendation takes too long and eventually loses its validity, just like what happened with the Covid vaccine,” she said in Filipino.

While other countries were already administering booster shots, she added that HTAC has yet to decide when to administer them and is still awaiting the results of their clinical trials.

“The expired vaccines were depressing, although we saw it coming because, if you remember, as early as June and July, there was a strong call to allow the first booster because the Delta variant was already approaching,” she said.

She also chastised HTAC for its lack of flexibility that hampered private sector purchases of Covid vaccines as they cannot administer the booster shot to their employees without DoH approval, which requires recommendations from HTAC.

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