Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu top priority in COVID-19 vaccine deployment – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020   •   302

MANILA, Philippines – Areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu will be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine once it becomes available, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez said this is part of the government’s strategy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass immunization in adherence to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the poor and government frontliners in the vaccination.

During a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in Davao City on Monday, Galvez said they will employ two strategies in the distribution of the vaccine – geographical and sectoral.

Once the infected areas have been selected, vaccines will then be distributed to the target beneficiaries.

The vaccine czar expressed confidence that this strategies will help the country contain the spread of the virus and recover from economic losses due to the pandemic.

“And then from geographical magiging sectoral. Meaning, kung sino ‘yung priority natin ‘no, for example sa Manila, ‘yung urban poor uunahin po natin ‘yon; ‘yung mga vulnerable uunahin po natin doon; ‘yung mga sundalong naka-assign sa NCR uunahin po natin at saka po ‘yung mga essential workers,” Galvez said.

“Iyon po mayroon pong impact ‘yon kaagad sa ating economy at may impact kaagad na ma-contain po kaagad. So ang strategy po natin, Mr. President, po is geographical, priority ang NCR, priority ang Davao dahil ang Davao po ngayon umaakyat din, priority ‘yung Cebu, priority po ‘yung mga Bacolod, ‘yung mga tinamaan po ng mabibigat ng COVID,” he added.

Immunizing areas with high number of COVID-19 infections will help the government in its assessment on the efficacy of the vaccines, according to Galvez.

So far, several vaccine developers are set to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines. These include Sinovac, Hansen, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, and CanSino.

Duterte earlier allowed the release of advance payment to companies developing potential COVID-19 vaccine to secure the country’s supply as recommended by Galvez.

With the president’s approval, the vaccine czar said the government can now proceed with Advance Market Commitment and start negotiating with big pharmaceutical companies such as China’s Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

He added that the government can secure advance commitment with Astra Zeneca for 20 million doses this month.

Galvez earlier projected that the vaccine supply can be made available by the second quarter of 2021 once an agreement has been signed.

The Philippine government previously said it is looking at multilateral financing institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance vaccine procurements.

Local banks such as the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines are also possible sources of funds.

Duterte volunteers to be first to be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine, but in private — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang stressed on Tuesday (January 26) that President Rodrigo Duterte already decided with finality that he would get coronavirus vaccine shot in private.

This, despite the suggestion of vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr to make it public as the President will boost confidence in the government’s vaccination program. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said such is the President’s personal preference.

“He had said so. Sabi nga niya, dahil sa puwet siya magpapasaksak so hindi pwedeng public (He said he wants to get shot in the buttock so it cannot be public),” Roque said.

Duterte said he is willing to be inoculated and volunteered to be the one to get the first vaccine shot to set an example.

Roque said the President wants to have it done the way Queen Elizabeth II did by announcing it only after she and Prince Philip received the vaccine.

Other leaders, meanwhile, preferred to be vaccinated in public like US President Joe Biden, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Lacson seeks simplified process for entry of donated COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday sought simplified procedures for the entry of donated COVID-19 vaccines, especially those with emergency use authorization (EUA) from countries or territories with stringent regulatory agencies.

Lacson made the call during the third hearing of the Senate, convening as a Committee of the Whole, on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“This is critical because there are many associations abroad that may donate vaccines to their sister cities in the Philippines. Would it not be more practical to ensure the goods reach the intended recipients directly under strict supervision and guidance by health authorities, instead of coursing the goods through the Department of Health and having the DOH distribute them?” he said.

“Besides, many local government units like Baguio City already have their own cold storage facilities for the vaccines, as their local leaders had the foresight to act accordingly. Allowing such donated vaccines to go directly to the LGUs instead of having to go through the logistical requirements of the DOH and Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 would also avoid the prospect of double handling and additional costs,” he added.

Lacson pointed out that the pandemic involves an emergency where authorities cannot afford to have vaccines go through the bureaucratic processes that could delay its distribution.

In response to Lacson’s recommendation, Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said they will make the necessary simplification of processes. They may also conduct a time and motion rehearsal in the logistical process.

“Tama kayo, Sir. Yan din ang gagawin namin. Kaya magkakaroon ng time and motion rehearsal para in case capable ang LGU, pwede idiretso para wala nang double handling,” Galvez told Lacson.

Davao City sets fine vs individuals with fake, tampered COVID-19 test results

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2021

DAVAO, Philippines—Davao City has signed an ordinance imposing fine on individuals using fake or tampered COVID-19 test results.

This was after numerous falsified COVID-19 test results were reported in various airports in Davao City, including Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

The new ordinance states that persons with falsified or tampered test results will face a P5,000 fine.

“Test result and other health verification documents includes, but not limited to, the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction(RT-PCR) test, rapid antigen test, other serologic tests, or any other similar tests that may be used in the future,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, persons or establishments who shall fabricate any false or tampered result, or shall present themselves as testing centers, without proper authority from the Department of Health will also be penalized with the administrative fee of 5,000 pesos.

Since November 2020, twenty-eight (28) individuals have been caught presenting falsified RT-PCR test results upon their arrival in Davao City airports. AAC

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