No funds to buy COVID-19 vaccines next year – DOH
No allocation in 2024 budget

No funds to buy COVID-19 vaccines next year – DOH

/ 05:46 AM December 17, 2023

No funds to buy COVID-19 vaccines next year – DOH

ANTIVIRUS JAB | A health worker in Iloilo vaccinates a woman against COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic in 2021.(FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) will not procure next year any COVID-19 vaccines, including the recommended monovalent jabs against more dominant strains, as no funding was allocated for them in the proposed 2024 budget.

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said the country would instead rely on donations, including the 1 million doses of monovalent XBB vaccines offered by the Covax facility.


“We didn’t include new [COVID-19] vaccines in the budget because the new vaccines are still experimental,” he told reporters on Friday.


“But there’s a new vaccine formulation called monovalent XBB. And we’ve been offered 1 million doses, and I’m accepting it in tranches of 500,000 so we can also have access,” Herbosa said.

However, there is no timeline yet for the shipment of the said vaccines, which are now the recommended type of COVID-19 jab by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since the lifting of the public health emergency in July, the health chief pointed out that protection against COVID-19 was now mainly based on “individual risk management.”

“During the pandemic, the government tried to protect everyone. Now it’s back to individual-based risk management. That means, if you’re high risk, why would you go to a hospital without a mask [for instance],” he said.

But Herbosa raised the possibility of incorporating COVID-19 in the routine vaccination, citing recent studies.

“We will watch [developments] on this because science journals say that you may have to keep giving it because the virus mutates,” he said.


In an online forum on Friday, infectious diseases specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante also noted the importance of including COVID-19 in the long-term vaccination program “as part of life-course vaccination for vulnerable populations.”

READ: DOH debunks ‘COVID-19 wave alert’: It’s false information

“If ever there will be a recommendation for a COVID-19 vaccination that’s variant specific, then this [should] be focused on priority populations that will have higher risk of hospitalization or development of complications … such as long COVID,” he said in a webinar organized by the University of the Philippine Manila’s National Telehealth Center.

In May this year, a technical advisory group of WHO recommended the use of a monovalent XBB.1 lineage, such as XBB.1.5, as the COVID-19 vaccine’s antigen composition.

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It noted that several manufacturers that produced mRNA, protein-based, and viral vector vaccine platforms have already initiated the development of monovalent XBB.1.5 formulations that had secured regulatory approval.

TAGS: COVID-19 vaccines, Department of Health

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