The government was able to make use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses close to expiry date after its shelf life was extended for another three months, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Pfizer submitted to the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data that the vaccine’s shelf life can be extended from six months to nine months.
“So we were able to use up some of the Pfizer doses na meron tayo na set to expire, na-extend ng three months,” she said in a briefing.
Vergeire said the agency is hoping other vaccine manufacturers would follow suit.
“And that’s what we are expecting also, we’re looking if the other vaccine manufacturers also can follow suit and apply with FDA, as well, based on their studies if their shelf life for the specific vaccines can also be extended,” she said.
The DOH was also studying the possibility of extending the expiry dates of some COVID-19 vaccines in order to allow various areas to use up their existing inventory.
Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said authorities are "finalizing" the report on expiring COVID-19 shots.
"We are looking at where these vaccines are and the reasons that they were not jabbed,” said Cabotaje, chairperson of the National Vaccination Operations Center.
"We are also looking at the possibility of trying to extend shelf life. We are looking at the batch numbers,” she said in a televised public briefing.
Cabotaje said Canada extended the shelf life of a number of COVID-19 shots "based on some stability data."
The extension covered two lots of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine by 30 days, reports said.
Around 14,000 AstraZeneca doses recently expired in Negros Occidental and were not used in its vaccination drive.
"That was not used on vaccination day because some LGUs did not accept them as there were other available vaccines,” said Dr. Caludelia Pabillo, who was in charge of vaccine distribution there.
"They preferred to use other vaccines to encourage people to get inoculated,” Pabillo said.
The DOH is investigating who is liable for the incident, Cabotaje said.
“We expect some [vaccine] wastage in big campaigns,” she said.
"We’ll just be more circumspect… We will intensify our monitoring, although we have been reminding them almost every day,” she added.
The Philippines has fully vaccinated at least 37.3 million of its 109 million population against COVID-19.