Bacolod mayor won’t pay for expired COVID vaccines

FILE PHOTO:  Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez | Photo courtesy of Albee Benitez’s Facebook page

BACOLOD CITY—The new mayor of this city is not keen on paying P98 million for the COVID-19 vaccines that the previous administration had ordered from a private firm as more than half of these had already expired at the Department of Health’s (DOH) cold storage facility while the rest were expiring by the end of this month.

“It appears that the previous administration miscalculated its order for the vaccines,” said Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, noting that his predecessor, Evelio Leonardia, had ordered 650,000 doses from AstraZeneca.

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Of the number, only 216,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Bacolod and were used, according to the city health office. An initial payment of P65 million was made by Leonardia’s administration.

The remaining 434,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines ordered by the city government under Leonardia, worth about P98 million, did not arrive in Bacolod.

Instead, more than 300,000 doses of these expired at the DOH cold storage facility in Metro Manila while the rest would expire by end-July.

Honoring deal

In a statement, Dr. Chris Sorongon, Leonardia’s spokesperson, said the city government’s tripartite deal with AstraZeneca and the DOH was a contractual obligation that must be honored.