“If misuse is determined, countries will be held to account and will be required to reimburse COVAX,” said a Gavi representative.
The Philippines has officially rolled out its vaccination program this month in a bid to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. As with other countries, the government is currently focusing on inoculating healthcare workers first.
Unfortunately, the vaccination effort is now facing controversy after several reports of line-jumping has surfaced online.
Now the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning against the practice, saying supplies could be “jeopardized” and that the country may instead have to pay for the donated vaccines.
Currently, the Philippines is using donations from China’s Sinovac and the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself acknowledged the problem, naming 9 city and town mayors who deliberately jumped the vaccine line namely Mayor Alfred Romualdez (Tacloban City), Mayor Dibu Tuan (T’boli, South Cotabato), Mayor Sulpicio Villalobos (Sto Niño, South Cotabato). Mayor Noel Rosal (Legazpi City), Mayor Abraham Ibba (Bataraza, Palawan), Mayor Elanito Peña (Minglanilla, Cebu), Mayor Victoriano Torres III (Alicia, Bohol), Mayor Virgilio Mendez (San Miguel, Bohol), and Mayor Arturo Piollo II (Lila, Bohol).
Naturally, the president wants the officials to explain why they skipped the priority line, adding:
“We are only the donee to donors, and we accepted that with the conditions. We should follow them because the WHO country representative said, ‘If you do not follow the list of priority, you might lose the assistance of the WHO.”
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also encouraged Filipinos to report cases of cutting lines.
“I hope we all guard our vaccines so that we can appropriately give [them] to those people who [need them most]. Let’s not take the vaccines meant for the people who are supposed to safeguard our lives,” the official remarked.
WHO Philippines representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe likewise warned the country about the possibility of losing millions of vaccine donations.
A spokesperson from vaccine alliance partnership Gavi emphasized:
“If misuse is determined, countries will be held to account and will be required to reimburse COVAX.”
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