Why is PH lagging behind in Covid-19 vaccination? Senators ask
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators on Thursday have questioned why the Philippines seems to be lagging behind its vaccination program, saying that the delivery date of vaccines to the country remains unclear amid the absence of any signed supply agreement.
“Nakakailang araw na tayong kaka-practice pero wala pa rin yung bakuna and they can’t give us a definite date when it is coming,” Senator Nancy Binay said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
(We’ve already had days of practice but until now we don’t have the vaccines yet and they can’t give us a definite date when it is coming.)
“The mere fact na we only have term sheets at the moment, wala pa tayong supply agreement na pinipirmahan, the delivery of the vaccine will always be a question. At this point ang sigurado lang ay hindi sigurado kung kailan dadating yung bakuna,” she said.
(The mere fact that we only have term sheets at the moment and we have yet to sign any supply agreement, the delivery of the vaccines will always be a question. At this point the only thing that is sure is that it is still unsure when the vaccines will arrive.)
The government targets to roll out its Covid-19 mass immunization program within the first quarter of the year, eyeing to vaccinate at least 70 million Filipinos to achieve herd immunity and significantly arrest the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which causes the potentially fatal respiratory illness.
“I think from day one when we had this problem, lagi tayong reactionary. Kumbaga at this point, hindi tayo makahabol do’n sa pag-solve natin sa problem natin sa Covid-19,” Binay also said.
(I think from day one when we had this problem, we have always been reactionary. That’s why at this point, we can’t keep up in solving our problem with Covid-19.)
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also lamented that the Philippines is being “left behind” in the procurement and administration of Covid-19 vaccines.
“It is very disappointing. I am worried for the future of our country,” he said in a statement.
“Each day we fail to start the vaccination raises the risk of further spread of the virus and makes our economic recovery longer,” he added.
Drilon pointed out that the Philippines is lagging behind its regional peers in the vaccination of its population.
“Many are baffled by our situation. Out of the 10 countries in Southeast Asia, six have already started inoculating their citizens,” the minority leader said.
Among the countries that have started rolling out jabs are Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar, leaving the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand behind, according to Drilon.
“Bakit tayo hanggang ngayon wala pa rin?” he asked.
(Why is it that until now, we don’t have the vaccines yet.)
The Philippines has already “locked-in” 108 million doses of vaccines through “term sheets” with different manufacturers.
The government, meanwhile, will likely sign “a few” supply agreements by the end of February.
“I cannot emphasize this enough: our survival as a nation largely depends on our ability to ensure immediate access and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to our people. At the rate things are going, however, Filipinos have to wait longer,” Drilon went on.
Aside from the lack of confidence by Filipinos in Covid-19 vaccines, the senator said politics also poses a challenge to the government’s mass vaccination program against coronavirus.
“We must prevent the politicization of the Covid-19 vaccination. The Covid-19 vaccination program will not succeed if we inject politics,” Drilon said.
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