Philippines not yet late in negotiating for COVID-19 vaccines - Galvez
The Philippines is not yet lagging behind its neighboring countries in negotiating for vaccines against coronavirus disease, government's vaccine czar said on Wednesday.
In the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual forum, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., also the National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer, said the government has been negotiating with other countries as well as the pharmaceutical companies.
"I believe we are not late yet because we have ongoing negotiation with different leading companies and we still hope the Chinese government and other governments can allow us to access," he said.
He said if the Philippines will be allowed access to at least 5 to 10 million doses on the first quarter next year, "we are still good considering that most of the countries will be having their roll out early next year."
While the Philippines could not yet be considered late in procuring possible COVID-19 vaccines, Galvez admitted that the procurement law hindered the Duterte administration to negotiate earlier.
He also cited the Universal Health Care Law, which provides for a phase 4, which is "we will let other countries to use that vaccine before we use it."
But Galvez said that they met with the Commission on Audit and sought advice on how the government could advance the procurement system.
He said COA advised them that they have to get approval from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Even if there is no actual COVID-19 vaccine yet, Galvez cited the limitation on the world global supply and demand for the vaccine.
Quoting a report, Galvez said that more than 80 percent of the vaccines have been procured already by the rich countries and the World Health Organization and COVAX Facility also procured another two percent.
"So, what is left to us is 18 percent and there is really an acute source or supply of vaccine," he said.
Galvez reiterated that the "realistic scenario" for the Philippines to roll out the vaccine is during the middle of the second quarter of 2021.
"But we are trying hard to secure the vaccines, especially from the diplomatic friends like China, Australia and other countries like the US that we can get the vaccine during the first quarter," Galvez added in a separate briefing. Celerina Monte/DMS