Angara: 100M Filipinos could be inoculated vs COVID-19 if vaccines at P600 each
MANILA, Philippines — Over 100 million Filipinos are estimated to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) if each vaccine that the government would buy is priced at P600, Senator Sonny Angara said Thursday.
The budget that was approved by Congress allots P72.5 billion for the vaccines, while the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 allots another P10 billion for the inoculation drive.
“So if you add that to the P72.5 billion here in the 2021 budget, you are talking about P82.5 billion, and if you are talking about a vaccine that you can obtain at around P600, you are talking about over 100 million persons getting vaccinated,” Angara, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
He said this budget “would seem sufficient,” but he also cited certain variables.
“There are questions that you and I cannot decide or solve because we don’t have the available information. What are these pieces of information? How much has been promised to us as supply? When will it arrive? Things like that. Where will it be stored?” he explained.
“These are things that are all moving targets because there are so many factors at play. All governments of the world are talking to the vaccine manufacturers, trying to obtain adequate supply,” said Angara.
National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that the government hopes to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of Filipinos against the coronavirus — enough to trigger herd immunity—within three to five years.
Angara said the proposed budget for the vaccines would be enough to meet this target.
“If we are looking at the indicative figure of 60 percent—I think that was the figure discussed, 60 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated—then I think there are sufficient funds there,” he noted.
“Especially if we are talking about I think ang kausap ni Secretary Galvez ngayon ay (Secretary Galvez is negotiating with) AstraZeneca, and you are talking about P600 for two doses which is enough for one person, spaced one month apart, so I think he is in negotiations to secure initial supply of that,” the senator added.
United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca recently passed the review of the local ethics board to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines. It is one of the five developers of COVID-19 vaccines that have applied to conduct clinical trials here in the country.
Of the P72.5 billion budget for the vaccines under the 2021 budget, only P2.5 billion could be immediately funded as the remaining bulk was lodged in standby funds.
However, Angara assured that the P70 billion unprogrammed budget for the vaccines can also be considered “solid funding.”
“The P70 billion is solid funding also, and just because it’s under the unprogrammed funds doesn’t mean it’s not solid funding,” he said.
“It’s not dependent just on tax collections. In fact, it’s not tax collections. It’s non-tax collections or non-fiscal collections so meaning that’s the fees you collect like at the LTO (Land Transportation Office) and things like that, the fees the treasury collects on interests,” he explained.
The senator also said that the country’s economic managers have likewise assured that the P70 billion budget is “very reachable.” Zac Sarao, trainee
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