UNICEF, WHO say 7, 500 doses of AstraZeneca remain usable

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


The 7,500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine recalled from the Department of Health Center for Health Development (DOH CHD) in Bicol a week ago are in usable condition, according to the statement released on Mar. 26 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


A DOH press statement said that based on the preliminary report of the WHO and UNICEF, one of the storage boxes containing the 7,500 doses received by CHD-DOH Bicol logged a temperature of more than 400 degrees celsius (°C).


However, upon detailed review of the available evidence, WHO and UNICEF found that only the thermometer was faulty, and all other equipment and devices used to store and transport the vaccines were all functional, thereby ensuring that all vaccine doses remain usable, the statement said.


Noemi Bron, DOH Bicol public affairs chief, said that the department and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) on Mar. 26 shared the preliminary findings of the WHO and UNICEF investigation stating that the 7,500 doses recalled coronavirus vaccine are still usable.


The DOH and the NTF lauded the DOH - CHD Bicol for following protocol and exhibiting an abundance of caution, which in turn allowed the national government, WHO, and UNICEF to immediately initiate an investigation.


On Mar. 21, at least 7,500 doses of British-made AstraZeneca vaccines that had been sent to Bicol intended for health workers across the region were returned to the DOH central office as these had been packed in containers with defective thermometers, Bron said.


She said the vaccines were put on hold after DOH officials in Bicol discovered the thermometer in the vaccine container as defective.


The AstraZeneca vaccines needed to be stored in temperatures of 2 to 6 degrees Celsius. The reverted 7,500 doses of coronavirus vaccine was part of the 22,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines delivered to the region last Mar. 10.


The DOH and NTF also expressed gratitude to WHO and UNICEF for providing immediate assistance and conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.


Due to this, the DOH and NTF vowed to ensure that all devices and equipment used in Covid-19 vaccine logistics and storage management are in good condition, the statement said.


Bron said that another round of coronavirus vaccine allocation is set to arrive in Bicol this month.