House to pass bill on vaccine indemnity fund on Feb. 22 – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021   •   297

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to approve on Monday, February 22, a bill seeking to establish an indemnification fund and expedite the procurement of vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the lower chamber is expected to pass House Bill No. 8648 on second and third readings after the measure was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As soon as we were apprised that the indemnification fund is a requirement of the vaccine manufacturers, we wasted no time in filing House Bill 8648, which would allow emergency procurement of vaccines and provide the required indemnification fund,” Velasco said in a statement.

House Bill 8648 proposes to provide exemptions to compliance by local government units with the procurement requirements under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act in the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and other much-needed supplies during the pandemic.

The bill pushes for the vaccines to be exempted from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, and other fees, provided that the shots to be acquired by LGUs “shall only be used for their residents and constituents, and not for commercial distribution.”

The bill is now up for second reading after it was approved by the Committee on Appropriations and sponsored in plenary.

Aside from the vaccine indemnification bill, Velasco said the House is also prepared to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan 3), which proposes a P420-billion fund for the implementation of much-needed COVID-19 response and recovery interventions.

The proposal also includes a P25-billion budget for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.

The House speaker said the lower chamber has always been supportive of the national government’s efforts to fight COVID-19 noting the passage of the 2021 national budget, which includes a P72.5 billion allocation for vaccine procurement, as well as the Bayanihan 1 and 2.

“Rest assured that the House will continue to pass legislation that would help sustain the national government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic, so we can all return to normal at the soonest possible time,” he said.

PH ready to handle Sputnik V vax storage requirements, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday assured that the Philippines is ready to receive and store Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Insitute.

The Philippine envoy to Russia earlier said that an initial batch of 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine is expected to arrive in the Philippines within the next few days.

An additional shipment of nearly 500,000 doses will be delivered before the end of April or early May.

Sputnik V vaccine needs to be stored at a specified temperature.

“Meron tayong handa na storage and distribution system when it comes to other vaccines that will require this kind of storage temperature,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online briefing.

“Napaghandaan na natin yan mula’t mula pa at ating inihahanda ngayon ang ating gagawin,” she added.

Unlike Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines that only require regular refrigeration temperature, Sputnik V has liquid and powder forms that have specified storage temperature requirements.

The liquid form requires storage at -18 degrees Celsius while the powdered form at the regular 2 to 8 degrees Celsius temperature.

“Itong Gamaleya vaccine, may konting technical requirement na kailangan talagang carefully maiayos natin kasi meron siyang powder form at liquid form,” Vergeire said.

“Yung liquid form may handling na specified, yung powder form may handling na specified. So ito pong lahat ay napaghandaan na,” she added.

Vergeire also said that the government’s logistics teams are currently conducting simulations to avoid any issues in receiving Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“Handa ang ating gobyerno. Handa ang ating sistema para mareceive natin ang mga ganitong bakuna with this kind of temperature storage,” she reiterated.

DICT vaccine information system aims to expedite COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has underscored the importance of the Vaccine Information and Management System (VIMS) in the government’s vaccination rollout for COVID-19.

On Wednesday (April 21), DICT Usec. Manny Caintic said VIMS aims to expedite the monitoring and tracking of the supply and distribution of vaccines throughout the country.

Caintic said health professionals can also use VIMS in monitoring vaccination centers during rollout.

Ang VIMS ay magiging single source of truth para sa lahat ng impormasyon patungkol sa pagbabakuna kontra COVID-19 (VIMS will serve as the single source of truth for all information on vaccination against COVID-19),” he said.

He also assured data privacy will be implemented and any personal information of a vaccinated individual will not be leaked.

The DICT official also said the data from LGUs is vital in VIMS.  He urged LGUs to submit requirements for VIMS to track its vaccine distribution for the vaccination information system.

The deadline given to the DICT for VIMS rollout in the National Capital Region LGUs is set until end-April, while the deadline for the VIMS in LGUs outside NCR was set until the end of May. AAC

Bulk of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries expected to arrive in PH starting June — Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government expects to receive the bulk of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries from June to August, which could speed up the country’s mass vaccination drive, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting in Malacañang on Monday, Galvez said they are expecting around 10 to 15 million vaccine doses by August.

Galvez also reported that he has secured five contracts with different drug makers and that the financing schemes are currently being ironed out.

These firms include Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, and Gamaleya Institute, he said, adding that Johnson & Johnson already received an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“‘Yong Sinovac, ito ang pinaka-steady supply natin at saka po ‘yong Gamaleya. Pagka nagkaroon na tayo ng initial delivery, magiging steady na,” he said, adding he expects Moderna and AstraZeneca to also make their vaccine deliveries soon.

For this quarter, the government is eyeing to receive two million doses of COVID-19 jabs. Around 500,000 vaccine doses of these will come from Sinovac, 20,000 doses from Gamaleya and 195,000 doses from Pfizer through the COVAX facility.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said at least 20,000 doses of Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V vaccine will be delivered in the next few days.

According to Galvez, the Sputnik V vaccine doses will be a mini rollout as the Russian pharmaceutical company conducts testing in the Philippines.

Galvez also reported that once the bilateral agreements are completed, Pfizer could make an early delivery of 2.4 million doses in the second quarter.

“And then sa May mayroon tayong ini-expect na four million; two million po sa Sinovac. Ito nabayaran na po ‘to natin, mahal na President, ‘yong 3.5 million na 1.5 million sa April at saka two million sa May,” he told the Duterte.

The vaccine czar also disclosed that the Philippine government expects to sign a contract with Gamaleya on Tuesday after ordering around one to two million doses from the Russian drug manufacturer.

Galvez added that he is also looking at getting 194,000 doses from Moderna.

The Philippines has so far vaccinated over one million Filipinos against COVID-19.

Some 965,960 healthcare workers have received the first doses of the jab. There are 132,948 senior citizens and 180,315 persons with co-morbidities who also received the shot.

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