COVID-19 Crisis: Department of Health (DOH) and private sector explain wasted vaccines

Do you believe everything the Department of Health (DOH) declared with regards to their handling of COVID-19 here in the Philippines? In recent times, local news organizations published their own reports about something really unfortunate…the expiration of millions of COVID-19 vaccines amounting to an estimated P15.6 billion. Think about that carefully. Many billions of Pesos worth of COVID-19 vaccines wasted! The DOH and the private sector (represented by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion) separately explained their sides of the huge loss.

So how does the DOH explain the tremendous loss of COVID-19 vaccines? To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the news report of Malaya Business Insight. Some parts in boldface…

THE Department of Health (DOH) yesterday defended the high number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines that have been wasted and has recently become the subject of the ire of some senators.

In a press conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said it is not out of the ordinary to have 31.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines wasted if compared to the experiences of other countries.

“It is not just the Philippines that is experiencing this kind of situation in terms of logistics and supplies,” said Vergeire.

We are seeing more and more that the other countries are having this kind of expirations or wastage of vaccines,” she added without elaborating.

The DOH officer-in-charge added that the 31.3 million doses of wasted vaccines is within the threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The DOH has previously acknowledged that the total vaccine wastage in the country is 12.5 percent of the total 250.38 million doses, or 31.3 million.

“The (WHO) specifically said that because of (the) evolving nature of the pandemic, it (allowed vaccine wastage percentage) is around 25 to 30 percent,” Vergeire said.

The Philippines considers this as being still within that level that is acceptable,” Vergeire said in defense of the 12.5 percent wastage rate.

Last week, Sen. Pia Cayetano revealed that about 31.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were either wasted or not used in the country.

Among the reasons cited for the wastage of vaccines were expiration, short shelf life, damage due to natural disaster as well as damage due to temperature, discoloration, and having particulate or floating matters.

In relation to the tremendous loss of COVID-19 vaccines, Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion explained the private sector’s side as reported by the Manila Bulletin. Posted below is an excerpt with some parts in boldface…

The private sector has no control over the Covid-19 vaccines donated to the government, which included 70 percent of wasted vaccines from the private sector.

This was reiterated by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

The majority of the wasted Covid-19 vaccines in the Philippines were not under the safekeeping of the private sector,” he said in a statement.

Concepcion shared tallies of its Covid-19 vaccine inventories showing that of the total 23,516,990 doses that the private sector secured through a tripartite agreement with government and the vaccine manufacturers, 9,398,230 doses have expired.

This figure includes the 2,834,495 doses it donated to local governments.

The inventory, however, does not include other private sector initiatives, but Concepcion pointed out that these, too, would be under the custody of the government.

According to Concepcion, the private sector has noted that there have been gaps in the government’s monitoring and reporting of the inventory, especially of the vaccines that it donated as part of the tripartite agreement.

He explained that because Covid-19 vaccines are still under Emergency Use Authorization, only the government can engage in their purchase and administration, including assessing how many more it needed to buy and add to the private sector donations.

The government, he added, also conducts inventory on vaccines nearing their expiry dates so that it can be used first before procuring more.

Among the factors cited by the government as contributing to the wastage of the vaccines were short shelf life and temperature excursion. It also noted from its inventories that some vials were not opened or used at all.

“Private sector has always been proactive in pushing for vaccinations,” said Concepcion. “In fact we were the ones asking the HTAC (Health Technology Assessment Council) to adopt the US FDA guidelines just so we can speed up the booster vaccinations,” he said.

In July, millions of Covid-19 vaccines worth billions of pesos expired just days after second boosters were allowed for adults 50 years and older, and those 18 to 49 years with comorbidities.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this latest series of developments? Do you believe the ways DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained the waste of over thirty million COVID-19 vaccines? Do you find the vaccine waste acceptable at all knowing that they are worth over P15 billion? Do you still trust the DOH on how they are handling the COVID-19 situation in the country not to mention how their policies impacted your private lives and livelihood? Do you think it is time for the national government to end the Emergency Use Authorization on COVID-19 vaccines so that vaccination operations will be improved and the reduction of vaccine wastage could happen?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

The new normal for bread from the local bakeries?

Have you been paying more for pandesal at your local bakery? In my experience, I love the pandesal of Mang Pandesal located along Tropical Avenue, BF International in Las Piñas City.  When I first visited them in 2019, they sold pieces of pandesal at P2 each. That is no longer the case anymore. Two days ago, I visited Mang Pandesal ang bought 20 pieces of pandesal at P2.50 each. That’s a total of P50.

Do the math, P2.50 is a notable increase of 25% over the previous price of P2 per pandesal which lasted for years at Mang Pandesal. While I still will buy pandesal from Mang Pandesal (note: they’re still the best in the BF Homes community), I am more conscious about how many pieces to buy each time I visit them.

Even as our country continues to struggle to recover from the COVID-19 crisis socially and economically, we have no choice but to face the new normal of bread from the local bakeries…a new normal of higher prices and/or smaller sizes of bread. There are both internal and external economic forces that have been affecting the many local bakeries around the Philippines. High fuel prices are just the tip of the iceberg, literally.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from a recent Manila Bulletin article. Some parts in boldface…

Expect local bread to get smaller but become more expensive at the same time.

Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda made this rather depressing prediction as wheat, eggs, and sugar–all vital ingredients to breadmaking–have all shot up in price.

Salceda even has a clever word for it: “shrinkflation”.

“Bread will probably be the hardest hit by shrinkflation. Wheat prices have increased by 165 percent. At that point, breadmakers will probably both increase prices and shrink sizes,” the economist-solon said in a statement Sunday night, July 17.

Last March, Salceda warned of higher bread prices amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which affected the trade of wheat.

Egg prices are also threatening to go out of control. Sugar supply is already problematic, noted the Bicolano.

“What we are likely to see us shrinkflation. Goods getting smaller instead of higher prices,” he noted.

Salceda said that while the government continues to try to control price hikes and resolve supply issues, manufacturers and millers can “fortify their products with vitamins and minerals”.

“Nutrition should be part of Science for Change, which is the DOST’s (Department of Science and Technology) flagship program. This should be one of the most relevant and immediate applications.

“Secretary [Fortunato] dela Pena also asked millers and breadmakers to consider other alternatives and additives to maintain nutritional value without increasing prices or reducing sizes significantly…So, in the meantime, while we solve the structural issues affecting price and supply, we can adapt,” the lawmaker said.

Pieces of pandesal.

Meanwhile, the Malaya Business Insight recently published an article about the struggle of community bakers. Posted below is an excerpt of their article with some parts in boldface…

Community bakers have lost 20 percent of their members due to the twin effects of the pandemic and rising raw material prices.

Princess Lunar, director of the Asosasyon ng Panaderong Pilipino, told the Balitaan sa Maynila yesterday, the fair price of pandesal should be P4 per piece to maintain its quality but bakers continue to sell at P2 to P2.50  but the size has considerably shrank to 18 grams.

Lunar said at P4, pandesal size can be restored to 30 g.

While pandesal is not a regulated commodity, community bakers cannot increase their prices because of competition among themselves as well as with commercial and industrial bakers which have economies of scale.

She said the group plans to come up with variants of pandesal at a much  bigger size  enhanced with more nutritious ingredients from agricultural crops like potato, cassava and other starches. The group plans to sell this at P8 to P10 per piece.

The value-added product can help elevate the stature of the pandesal which Lunar has termed as the “pambansang tinapay.”

She appealed to government to assist the group in conducting trainings to improve further the quality of their breads especially pandesal and ensure its sustainability.

Lunar said prior to the pandemic, about 40 percent of the flour requirements for bread go to community bakers. This has since shrank to 19 percent.

Lunar said from P785 per bag, the price of flour has gone up to P1,000. Since January when the Russia-Ukraine crisis started, the price of flour has gone up by P100 to P150 per bag.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Have you been paying more for pandesal at your local bakery? Does each pandesal piece look smaller in terms of size and content in relation to what you paid for? Are you willing to pay P4 per piece of pandesal? Are there any bakeries in your local community that shut down recently? Apart from pandesal, what other types of bread do you buy from your local community bakery?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others as well as making a donation to support my publishing.. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Panda Express Muntinlupa City branch set for July 1, 2022 opening

If you are fond of American Chinese meals with the fast food touch, then you might be interested to know that Panda Express is about to open its Muntinlupa City branch at one of the gasoline stations along the southbound lane of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) on July 1, 2022, according to a report by Malaya.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Malaya news report. Some parts in boldface…

The south area of the metro is attracting some good fortune. Panda Express—the world’s largest American Chinese dining concept—is set to open another store in the south on July 1, with its Shell SLT branch, the first location in Muntinlupa and along the South Luzon expressway.

The new branch will be the 10th Panda Express branch in Metro Manila since it set foot in the country in 2019.

“This back-to-back store openings in the south is all attributable to the heartwarming support that Panda Express has received from Filipino customers since 2019. Guests from Muntinlupa and nearby areas, as well as city travelers heading south can now stop over at our new location to satisfy their craving for savory, wok-cooked American Chinese dishes,” said Ned Bandojo, Business Development Head of Jollibee Group Foreign Franchised Brands.

The Panda Express menu includes a variety of entrées with regional Chinese influences—from its bestselling The Original Orange Chicken, a wok-tossed crispy chicken coated in sweet tangy sauce to other must-try entrees like Broccoli Beef, Savory Shrimp and Black Pepper Steak.

For the newcomers reading this, Panda Express started in Glendale, California in the United States in 1983 and expanded worldwide with over two thousand branches. In the South Metro Manila area, they have branches in Parañaque City and Las Piñas City.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a Muntinlupa City resident, what is your reaction to this recent development? Are you willing to take the trip south the SLEX just to eat at the Shell gas station branch of Panda Express? When was the last time you ate at an American Chinese restaurant? Do you wish that Panda Express would someday open a new branch within the Alabang area of Muntinlupa?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

420-kilometer SLEX toll road approved

Traveling south along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) will lead to more destinations faster as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other stakeholders approved the SLEX TR5 (South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 5) which is over 400 kilometers long, according to a Malaya news report. The said toll road stretches from Lucena, Quezon province to Matnog, Sorsogon.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Malaya news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Department of Transportation (DOTr), along with other government agencies, has given the green light for the 420-kilometer South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 5 (SLEX TR5) from Lucena, Quezon to Matnog, Sorsogon.

The supplemental toll operations agreement was signed last June 3, almost two years after the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) designated San Miguel Corp.’s proposal as a certified toll road project.

The agreement was signed by the DOTr, TRB, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and San Miguel Holdings Corp. (SMHC), and will be submitted to the Office of the President for approval.

As a toll road project, SLEX TR5 will involve various activities such as a right-of-way acquisition and construction, among others.

According to the TRB and the toll concessionaire, SLEX TR5 will connect Quezon and the provinces in Bicol. It is also expected to provide better and safer access to the tourism destinations, roll-on roll-off ports and fish ports in the provinces as well as address the traffic congestion in Bicol Region.

The TR5 is a four-lane divided toll road that starts from the terminal point of the SLEX TR4 project at Barangay Mayao, Lucena City in Quezon and ends at Matnog in Sorsogon near the Matnog Ferry Terminal.

SLEX TR5 is composed of eight segments which will run parallel to the existing Philippine National Railways, Maharlika Highway and Padre Burgos National Road or Quirino Highway.

The first segment is a 59.6-km. expressway from Lucena to Gumaca in Quezon that is estimated to cost P22.6 billion. Segment 1 is expected to be completed within 24 months, according to the DPWH.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Once the toll road is completed, do you intend to travel far further south?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/