PH in fresh talks with COVAX on 2M bivalent vaccines
The Department of Health (DOH) is in talks with the COVAX facility for a possible delivery of two million doses of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines this year, about three months after an earlier deal fell through due to legal issues.
“Negotiations include the requisite documents and legal requirements to be signed and submitted by the Philippine government,” the DOH said in a statement, adding that this would be the first shipment from COVAX since Republic Act No. 11525, or the COVID-19 vaccination law, lapsed last year.
“Once these documents are cleared and submitted, approval of allocation by COVAX will follow to commence the delivery,” it added.
RA 11525 took effect in February 2021 that provided for emergency procurement, tax exemptions of COVID-19 jabs, a P500-million indemnity fund, and immunity from liability for those involved in the inoculation program.
It, however, lapsed when the state of calamity was lifted on Dec. 31 last year.
The new round of negotiations followed the earlier botched deal with the COVAX facility to ship more than 1 million doses in March this year. Former DOH officer in charge Maria Rosario Vergeire revealed that the vaccine manufacturer decided to postpone the delivery after the Philippine government chose not to extend the state of calamity.
Early this month, the country’s first 390,000 doses of bivalent Pfizer COVID-19 jabs arrived from the Lithuanian government after the vaccine manufacturer was convinced to waive the indemnification clause it had required to be able to proceed with the donation.
The government on Wednesday began the rollout of the first batch of the next-generation COVID-19 vaccines.
The latest available DOH data showed that as of March 20, some 78.4 million people had been fully vaccinated in the Philippines, exceeding the government target. Over 23.8 million of them had availed themselves of the first booster shots, while 4.4 million had yet to get their second boosters.
The DOH noted that the official vaccination numbers have yet to be updated amid a data migration of the vaccine information management system by the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
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