DOH sets aside P2.4B in 2021 budget for COVID-19 vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has initially set aside P2.4 billion from its 2021 budget for the procurement of vaccines for the coronavirus disease.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said this amount could still be augmented once the cost of vaccines is released by manufacturers.
“Part of the budget for 2021, nag-allocate na kami ng P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines,” she said in an online media forum.
“‘Pag lumabas na ‘yung presyo niyan and we are able to procure, madagdagdagan pa naman yan but that’s the initial na sinet aside na natin for next year’s budget,” she added.
(When the vaccine’s price is released and we are able to procure, the budget can be augmented.)
The DOH is looking to procure 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 20 percent of the country’s population, she added.
The Health department is likewise coordinating with other government agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Foreign Affairs in the procurement of a vaccine.
There is no vaccine yet against COVID-19, but there are already ones being developed.
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez revealed the Philippine government can finance the vaccination of 20 million people COVID-19 once it becomes available.
Dominguez said the government can allocate $400 million or roughly P20 billion to buy the vaccine with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
The Philippines is currently in talks with drugmakers in several countries for the vaccines being currently developed.
The DOH earlier said the Philippine government has reached out to four drug manufacturers from China and Taiwan.
The Chinese government has previously vowed it would prioritize the Philippines once it develops a vaccine.
The Philippine government has likewise expressed interest in availing vaccines being developed in the United States, Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez said.
Romualdez revealed that they have already reached out to pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, as well as to biotechnology company Moderna, about possible purchase once their respective vaccine becomes available.
Meanwhile, the Russian government also expressed readiness to supply the Philippines COVID-19 vaccines as results of the trials are turning out to be “very promising.”
Proposals for the clinical trials as well as the production of the vaccine in the Philippines have already been submitted to the DFA and (are) now “under consideration,” Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said.
The Philippines is also one of the countries joining the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for vaccines, which is yet to start.
The country will also join the COVAX Facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
As of August 9, there are 129,913 COVID-19 cases in the country, with 67,673 recoveries and 2,270 deaths.
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