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PH eyes P20B procurement of anti-COVID vaccines

Buoyed by the progress in the global race for the coronavirus vaccine, the Duterte government is eyeing the acquisition of P20 billion worth of vaccines once the supplies become available.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 30, 2020.

The proposed fund allocation comes after President Duterte presented the government’s plan to prioritize the country’s poorest of the poor for the coronavirus immunization program.

In his taped public address, the President welcomed the progress in vaccine development, particularly expressing appreciation for China’s offer to prioritize the Philippines’ access to the vaccine and medicines. Once the vaccine is available, he said the government will purchase these and tap the military to help in the distribution.

“I promise you by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal. Huwag ninyo ‘yang new normal, new normal kasi sabi ko nga noon pag-umpisa natin hintayin lang natin ‘yung vaccine (Don’t expect the new normal because I said when we started, let us just wait for the vaccine),” Duterte said.

“Hintayin lang ho ninyo by December kung makatiis kayo kasi kung lalabas din kayo, matamaan kayo, patay rin eh (Just wait by December if you can be patient. Because if you keep going out and get infection, you’ll end up dead),” he said.

Under his free vaccine distribution plan, Duterte said the poor beneficiaries of the government’s subsidy program will be the first to benefit. The middle-income people as well as soldiers, policemen, and uniformed personnel will also be entitled to the free coronavirus vaccines.

Excluded from the government’s distribution list are the country’s rich “who can buy their own vaccine” as well as the “drug pushers and drug addicts,” according to the President.

“Ang mauna ‘yung walang-wala at saka of course those in the hospitals, ‘yung mga sick or dying. Ang una talaga ‘yung mga tao sa listahan na tumatanggap ng assistance sa gobyerno (Those who have nothing will be the first beneficiaries and of course those in the hospitals, the sick, and dying. We will prioritize the people on the list of those getting assistance from the government),” the President said.

“‘Yung mga mayaman, huwag na ninyong — huwag na ninyo akong isipin kasi hindi ako nag-iisip sa inyo. Sorry na lang. Kayo kung maka-afford (To the rich, don’t think of me because I don’t think about you. Sorry. You can already afford),” he added.

Duterte said he would ask Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the military to implement the distribution of the coronavirus vaccines to the rightful beneficiaries.

“Libre ito. Hindi ko ito ipagbili (This is for free. I won’t sell it),” he said.

In the meeting with some Cabinet members, the President asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to discuss how the government will finance the vaccine acquisition program.

Dominguez said the government could provide vaccines for free initially for 20 million people as estimated by the Department of Health.

He proposed that the coronavirus vaccines will be purchased by the Philippine International Trading Corporation with financing from the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.

He said the health department will include the P20 billion allocation for the vaccine procurement in its budget.

“We can pay that over maybe two or three years. So babayaran lang nila through the financing company which is LandBank and DBP. So, kayang-kaya ho ng DBP at saka LandBank i-finance itong purchase ng COVID vaccine of about, roughly ha, mga 20 billion pesos (So they will pay the financing companies which are Land Bank and DBP. These can finance the purchase of the vaccines which will be about P20 billion),” he said.

“So we have a plan and we can execute it as soon as the Department of Health chooses which vaccine or vaccines they want. Baka you will choose several. So certainly by late this year, if it’s available, we can already buy it. So it should be available for free to the lowest, to the poorest of the poor first in this country,” he said.

Dominguez noted that three pharmaceutical firms from China, a company from the United Kingdom, and another firm from the United States are expected to complete the third stage of the trials of their potential coronavirus vaccines by October.

“Before December most likely ma-a-approve na po ‘yun ng mga FDA nila, ‘yung Food and Drug Administration. So when that happens ho, ang Department of Health ang mamili kung anong tamang bakuna ang bibilhin (Before December, mostly like their Food and Drug Administrations (FDAs) will approve them. When that happens, the Department of Health will choose the right vaccine to be purchased),” Dominguez said.

“Ang estimate ho ng Department of Health, we will need to vaccinate for free a minimum of 20 million people ‘di ba? So I don’t know if it’s one vaccine or two shots, two shots. So we need — so 40 million vaccines — doses, 40 million doses. Ang 40 million doses times roughly 10 dollars per dose ‘di ba is 400 million dollars or roughly 20 billion pesos,” he said.

Dominguez said if the vaccine costs $10 per dose, the pharmaceutical firms may sell the medicine around P1,200 to include the service and transportation of the product. “That’s totally available, the financing is available for this program,” he added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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