While the government is struggling with the delays on the arrival of coronavirus vaccines due to limited global supply, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. assured they are doubling efforts to get early delivery of vaccines by the first quarter this year.
“So ito po ang medyo talagang malaking problema po natin dahil po talaga ‘yong sa global demand, napakababa po ng ano ng ating supply sa first quarter (This is the biggest challenge to us because the global demand is high but the supply for the first quarter is limited),” Galvez, who is also the country’s vaccine czar, told President Rodrigo Duterte in a virtual public briefing aired on Wednesday night.
Galvez said they are currently negotiating with the governments of Britain, China, India, and Russia for the delivery of additional doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country for the first quarter.
He cited the need to vaccinate around 1.7 million healthcare workers, the indigent population, and senior citizens.
He said the country might offer to pay “a little higher” to ensure the early delivery of Covid-19 vaccines within the first quarter.
“That’s why iyong ongoing negotiation po natin sa mga ibang vaccine ay kailangan po na ina-ano po namin na kung puwede silang magkaroon ng early delivery (That’s why we are negotiating with the vaccine manufacturers to make an early delivery),” he said. “At nagne-negotiate din po tayo kahit mapamahal nang kaunti basta ma-early delivery lang po sila ng second quarter at saka po ng first quarter (And we are also negotiating to even pay a little higher just to ensure the early delivery of the vaccines by the first and second quarters this year).”
Galvez said they are expecting to receive about 161 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.
“Iyon po ang ginagawa po nating technique, ino-offset po natin ng price — prices na ano ‘yong kanilang price, dadagdagan po ‘yong prices para mapaano po mapaaga po kasi mas maganda po ‘yong mas maaga siya ma-ooffset natin ‘yong ano iyong increase ng price (It’s part of our strategy to offset their prices, we will increase the prices so that it would come early),” he said.
Updates on vaccine procurement
Meanwhile, Galvez said the LGUs and the private sector that have signed a tripartite agreement with the AstraZeneca vaccines have already provided advance payment.
The government is now polishing the supply agreements for some 17 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, he said.
The vaccine czar added that the government had “marathon negotiations finalizing the language of the supply agreement” for Moderna vaccines.
He said they are now polishing the terms for the three agreements which include the terms for indemnification and supply delivery.
Galvez said the long process of negotiations for vaccine procurement involves ensuring that “malpractices and willful neglect” could be covered by the agreements.
“Dapat malaman po ng mamamayan at saka ng mga manufacturer na the state cannot waive iyong tinatawag na blanket immunity na ang ano po natin ay iyong (The public and the manufacturers should know that the state cannot waive the blanket immunity for) malpractices at saka (and) willful neglect,” said Galvez.
Though the country is working on the indemnity fund to cover the possible adverse effects of the Covid-19 vaccine, Galvez noted that the negotiations “must be fair and square.”
He said the vaccine manufacturers should maintain the negotiated specifications of Covid-19 jabs to be delivered and ensure that these vaccines are safe and effective for public use.
Galvez emphasized the importance of legislating the Senate Bill 2057, the substitute bill for vaccine-related measures that proposed a much-needed indemnification clause required for Covid-19 vaccines.
“They really intend to protect not only the manufacturers but also the vaccinee considering that mayroong allocated tayo na ano sir na indemnification fund kung just in case na ma-ospital or mayroong tinatawag tayong adverse effect (that we have allocated indemnification fund just in case vaccine recipients may hospitalize due to adverse effects). So lahat po protektado nito po (everyone is protected by this),” he said.
Galvez added the bill will provide full protection for vaccine manufacturers: “While we are doing everything in good faith to serve the humanity and save our people from this pandemic.”
On Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the first batch of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccines consisting of 600,000 doses will arrive in the country on Feb. 28.
Meanwhile, the city government of Manila will offer to vaccinate the city’s essential workers that include jeepney and other public utility vehicle drivers, vendors, and mall workers using the Sinovac vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in case it arrives first in the country.
“I will offer it to the general public particularly to the economic drivers, halimbawa jeepney driver, traysikel driver, market vendors, mga nasa planta, sa tindahan o sa restaurants (for example to the tricycle drivers, market vendors, those working in the plants, in stores or restaurants), they can avail,” Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said in an interview.
He said vaccinating these workers who deal directly with consumers every day may restore consumer confidence which would help contribute to economic recovery.
However, Domagoso stressed that receiving the vaccine will still be voluntary.
Domagoso said it is important that these types of workers are vaccinated as soon as possible because they interact with more people daily.
In case that there are still remaining vaccines, Domagoso said that he will open it then to the general public, especially those who have pre-registered under the manilacovid19vaccine. com.
Those who will give their consent will immediately receive the vaccine while those who will decline may wait for the next brand to arrive.
“Tatanungin natin sila, ano gusto nila Pfizer, AstraZeneca o Sinovac. Eto dumating Sinovac ito ino-offer namin. Kung ayaw pwede maghintay, pero (We will ask them what do they prefer, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Sinovac. The Sinovac has arrived and this is what we offer for now. Those who do not want them may wait, but) I will keep on reminding you that you are always at risk without the vaccine,” said Domagoso.
Domagoso said if the vaccines that are certified by the government to be safe and may give 50 percent, 70 percent, or 90 percent protection, he will accept and grab them the opportunity and encourages the public to do the same. (PNA)