Uh-oh! It looks like the World Health Organization (WHO) is not taking line-jumping for the COVID-19 vaccines in the country lightly. According to Vice.com, the WHO and its partners rebuked the situation in the Philippines, warning that vaccine supplies could be “jeopardized.” In line with this, the Philippines could end up having to pay for the donated jabs.
The country received almost half a million doses of the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca vaccines and 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines in March. The AstraZeneca doses were donated by the WHO’s global COVAX Facility, an alliance ensuring vaccine availability for non-wealthy nations. These batches of vaccines were reserved for front-line healthcare workers as part of the agreement.Â
While the ongoing inoculation of COVID-19 vaccines does give more people hope, the limited number of vaccine doses barely covers the 1.7 million medical front-liners in the country. However, this did not hinder mayors, celebrities, and ordinary citizens with powerful connections from cutting the line.
In line with these rich and powerful people’s selfish behavior, there’s a possibility that the country might have to pay for all the COVID-19 vaccines received as donations. Earlier in March, WHO Philippines representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe might lose millions of free vaccines in the pipeline from the COVAX Facility if the priority protocols are not observed.
“If misuse is determined, countries will be held to account and will be required to reimburse COVAX,” a spokesperson from Gavi, the vaccine alliance partner working with the COVAX Facility, stressed.
While Sinovac vaccine doses did not come through WHO’s COVAX Facility, they’re still intended for frontline health workers.
Given that there are not enough vaccines to inoculate all frontline health workers, to begin with, the importance of waiting for the right time to get vaccinated cannot be highlighted enough. The punishment for cutting the vaccine line could be very expensive for Filipinos.