Duterte administration relentless in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines – Galvez
MANILA, Philippines — National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Sunday assured that the Duterte administration is “relentless” in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines for the Filipino people.
“Rest assured that the Duterte administration has been relentless in acquiring these vaccines to ensure that the country will have a fair share of the doses,” Galvez said in a statement.
He also addressed the perceived slow vaccination rollout, saying that the current supply is reserved for medical frontliners.
“The inoculation of medical workers must be carried out in a deliberate manner. Considering the crucial task they perform, their vaccination must be done in batches in light of possible adverse effects and the impact on the manning requirements of health facilities,” he said.
“When all our medical frontliners and health care workers are inoculated and our country already has sufficient vaccine supplies, we shall significantly pick up the pace of our vaccination program,” he said.
Galvez added that almost 90 percent of the vaccines on hand have already been deployed in the past two weeks.
‘As much as we would like to conduct a full-scale vaccination program, we are, however, constrained by the current limited supply of vaccines in the world market. And this is the same problem being faced by most nations around the world,” he said.
To date, the Philippines has acquired 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech as a donation from the Chinese government.
Another one million doses is expected to arrive on March 21.
The Philippines also got 525,600 doses from British-Swede drugmaker AstraZeneca. The first shipment—consisting of 487,400 doses, arrived on March 4, while the remaining 38,400 doses arrived on March 7.
Vaccines from India, Russia
Meanwhile, Galvez reported that he visited India to directly deal with the Serum Institute of India to guarantee both short and long term vaccine supplies.
Another team is expected to fly to Russia to further conduct a study on the Sputnik V vaccine produced by Gamaleya, he added.
He also responded to the allegation that country has borrowed over over P10 trillion pesos to support its vaccination program.
Galvez, citing Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, said that government is working on an overall budget of P82.5 billion for the national vaccination program, of which P62 billion in financing is sourced from development partners and the rest is financed internally.
“We have secured enough funding from abroad right now as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank approved just this week separate loans to cover the entire P62-billion component that we plan to secure overseas,” he said.
“All copies of the loan and grant agreements signed by the Department of Finance are uploaded in the agency’s website and can be viewed by anyone who wishes to check their veracity,” he added.
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