Paperwork issues stall COVID-19 vaccine distribution to LGUs

Malacañang confirmed on Monday, April 26, that the new batch of vaccines from China’s Sinovac has yet to be distributed to local government units (LGUs) due to paperwork issues.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was referring to the 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered by China’s Sinovac on April 22, as part of the total 25 million CoronaVac doses purchased by the Philippine government.

Iyong dumating na [500,000 doses], nalaman ko na hindi pa natin nadi-distribute iyan, kasi humihingi sila ng certificate of analysis, para masigurado na iyong dumarating na batch ng Sinovac is of the same standard,” Roque said in a televised press briefing.

(I found out that we have yet to distribute the 500,000 new doses because the Food and Drug Administration is asking for a certificate of analysis from Sinovac to ensure that the new batch of vaccines is of the same standard as the previous shipments.)

A certificate of analysis is among the documents required by the FDA, which also monitors the importation of vaccine by batches/lot numbers in compliance with Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA).

Quezon City and Manila, the most populous cities of the National Capital Region (NCR), have been waiting longer than usual for new COVID-19 vaccines, as they have not received new supplies 4 days since a new batch of Sinovac doses arrived in the country.

For context, when the first batch of Sinovac vaccines arrived in the Philippines on February 28, multiple LGUs in Metro Manila received the supply allocated to them one to two days later, and were able to kick off vaccinations right after.

The Department of Health (DOH) said earlier Monday that it is replenishing the vaccine stockpile of local government units (LGUs) within the day.

“We had a meeting last Saturday night, and last [Sunday] night, the local governments were assured that their supplies are already going to be delivered to their areas,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in online briefing on Monday.

So darating na po iyon, baka nasa kanila na nga po iyon ngayon. May listahan na nga po ng allocation kahapon pa lang po (The new batch of vaccines will arrive, or maybe it has arrived already. We already had a list of allocations on Sunday),” Vergeire added.

But Manila city health officer Dr Arnold Pangan told Rappler that the DOH has yet to reach out to them on the matter.

No idea kung ilang new doses. No idea kung kailan darating. Wala pa po sinasabi sa amin (No idea on the number of new doses or when they will arrive. They have not told us anything),” Manila city health officer Dr Arnold Pangan told Rappler through the city PIO after the online briefing.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte meanwhile said the DOH has talked to them, but the city will have to wait a few more days to receive the new vaccine supply.

"As of [Sunday] night, after our meeting with the DOH, we have not received our allocation. My city health officer said they were told the [vaccines] will arrive midweek. We will be receiving 14,000 doses, good for 7,000 people," Belmonte said in a text message to Rappler.

City-wide vaccination in Quezon City drive took a pause in the second week of April. Manila and Pasay followed suit a week later, all due to maxed out supply.

Pasay's PIO chief Jun Burgos said Monday afternoon that no new vaccine supply has been delivered to them too.

As of April 22, the country’s total number of vaccine doses is 3,525,600. Over 1.3-million Filipinos have been administered with a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Department of Health as of April 20. – Rappler.com