President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation to make advance payments to suppliers of potential vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said Thursday.
“Papasok po tayo ng advance market commitments kasama ng private vaccine developers at pagbigay ng advance payments sa kanila (We will enter into advanced market commitments with private vaccine developers and will give advanced payments to them),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque said Duterte agreed to enter into advance market commitments (AMCs) to avoid being among the last countries to acquire a vaccine. The President was initially against having to pay pharmaceutical companies to reserve vaccines in advance.
“So medyo pumayag na po tayo na magkakaroon tayo ng advanced kasi pag hindi po tayo pumayag baka mangulelat tayo dun sa mga bansa na makakakuha ng vaccine (We agreed to pay in advance because if we don’t, we might be the last among countries to get the vaccine),” he said.
He said Duterte changed his mind about making advanced payments after seeing a list of countries that have already made AMCs.
“Alam ko po nung una ayaw ni Presidente ‘yan, pero nung nakita po niya yung listahan ng mga bansang nag-a-advance payment, hindi naman tayo magpapahuli basta meron naman tayong pondo. Kung kinakailangan ibenta ang mga ari-arian ng gobyerno gagawin niya ‘yan pero dahil nga importanteng masiguro na meron po tayong bakuna, pumayag na po siya nung tinatawag na advanced payments (I know the President initially disapproved of that setup, but when he saw the list of countries that made an advanced payment, he realized he didn’t want to be among the last to acquire a vaccine because we have funds. If he would need to sell government property, he would do it but because we must have a vaccine, he approved making advanced payments)” he added.
Roque said Duterte also approved various modes of financing for vaccines including private-public tripartite agreements without cost to government and the emergency use authorization to be issued to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) via proposed executive order.
Once the President issues an executive order, Roque said it would speed up the process of allowing the use of vaccines with FDA approval from countries they were developed in.
“Dati rati po, bago magamit ang isang bakuna rito na-approve na ng US FDA at Chinese FDA kinakailangan muna ng anim na buwan ng pagsusuri pero kung mapipirmahan itong executive order na ito aba’y 21 araw nalang po magagamit na rin natin sa Pilipinas (In the past, vaccines approved by the US FDA and Chinese FDA would need six months of review before they are allowed to be used here but if this executive order is signed, it would only take 21 days and it will also be allowed to be used in the Philippines),” he said.
In a taped meeting with Cabinet members aired Tuesday, Duterte said the government must get the “best bargain” for the country’s supply of vaccines once available.
Duterte said he will rely on vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to manage the acquisition of a vaccine by December or January 2021.
Galvez, in the same meeting, said the government can enter into a multilateral arrangement with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to facilitate the country’s vaccine procurement.
He endorsed the Department of Health’s proposal on the emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccines, saying it will guarantee 30 million to 50 million doses in the country by next year. (PNA)