No state monopoly in COVID-19 vaccine procurement – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2021   •   86

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has denied claims that the national government is building any monopoly on the procurement of vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying local government units (LGU) can purchase vaccines to be administered to their constituents.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the remark after some lawmakers questioned why the national government would not allow LGUs and private firms to deal directly with drug makers.

Roque said LGUs are allowed to procure vaccines from pharmaceutical companies but this should be done through entering a tripartite agreement.

This deal should involve the national government, the local government unit and the vaccine manufacturers.

For the advance purchase of AstraZeneca vaccine, the agreement states that local government units will shoulder the cost of the vaccine and plan its distribution in alignment with the national government’s immunization program.

Roque explained that a tripartite agreement has to be forged because AstraZeneca is part of COVAX facility, a pool setup by the World Health Organization to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Only states are involved in the system.

So malinaw po, ‘no, na hindi po natin ipinagbabawal. Wala pong monopoliya ang national government sa pagbili ng mga bakuna. Sa kasunduan na kinuha po namin, at ito po iyong model contract na pinipirmahan ng mga lokal na pamahalaan kasama ang AstraZeneca, ang national government at ang Department of Health, sila ang bumibili, sila ang nagbabayad,” he said.

Roque also reiterated that local governments are not required to use their own funds to procure vaccines for their constituents.

“Gobyerno pong nasyunal ang bibili ‘no. Uulitin ko po, hindi naman kinakailangan na ang mga lokal na pamahalaan ay gumastos ng sarili nilang pondo,” he said.

“Pero kung gusto po nilang gastusin ang sarili nilang pondo, hindi po tututol ang national government dahil iyan naman po ay tulong din sa bansa – imbes na utangin eh babayaran na po,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Marikina City eyes expansion of COVID-19 vaccine storage facility

Marje Pelayo   •   January 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Marikina City may have been hit by a massive flooding in the last quarter of 2020 but the city government assures enough funding for its COVID-19 response.

In fact, the city already has a cold chain storage facility in time for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

The storage, which can store up to 40,000 vials of vaccines, is fully air-conditioned and equipped with state-of-the-art vaccine refrigerators.

The city government also invested on carriers that will transport the vaccines to the vaccination sites.

The vaccines will be placed inside a specially designed package with a thermometer to ensure proper temperature while in transit. Even the syringes are exact in measurement and can only be used once.

“Ito ay may lock kaya auto disable,” Marikina City’s cold chain manager Lourdeliza de Guzman explained.

According to Mayor Marcy Teodoro, they are negotiating with two companies and the tripartite procurement for the vaccine is already in progress.

They expect the vaccines to arrive in February or within the third quarter of the year.

Also, the city government is also preparing other areas where additional vaccine storages can be established.

“Ine-expand pa rin namin ito para at least makapag hold kami ng up to 100,000 vials ng vaccine. Both 2-8 degrees and sub-zero cold storage ang aming objective,” he added.

Teodoro said Marikina City is targeting to inoculate around 270,000 or about 60 percent of its population.

It has also allotted around P80M budget in addition to the vaccines that the national government will provide.

“Iyong prioritization namin primarily one, health care workers, mga social workers, iyong mga non-medical (workers) iyong mga nasa PNP natin, barangay health workers, iyong essential workers natin na katulong natin,” Teodoro said.

“Pagkatapos (mga) senior citizens, PWD, iyong mga mahihirap, iyong mga nakatira doon sa mga settlement area ng Marikina. Tapos yung mga working population namin,” he added.

Teodoro said they are planning for a mobile vaccination which will make rounds in hospitals, resettlement sites or in other areas where vaccination is needed. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Gov’t eyeing to begin immunization program in February, says vaccine czar

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is planning to begin the COVID-19 immunization program in February, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

He said 50,000 of China’s Sinovac vaccines are set to arrive in the country on February 20. An additional 950,000 doses will arrive in March, and two million more in the succeeding months.

Galvez also reported that Pfizer may also provide more or less 25 to 40 million doses once negotiations are finalized. The government is also in the final stages of negotiation with drug maker Johnson & Johnson, the vaccine czar added.

“Kapag nagpirmahan po tayo baka, hopefully, kung mayroon silang excess from US at other countries pwede pong mai-deliver ito sa atin (Once the agreement has been signed hopefully, if there is excess from the United States and other countries, [the vaccines] can be delivered to us),” he told the President during a meeting in Malacañang.

Other vaccine companies that the government is in talks with include American biotechnology company Moderna, and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute. Gamaleya promised to deliver 50 to 100 million doses to the country.

Meanwhile, local government units have already inked a deal with Astrazeneca for a supply of around 17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. AAC

Manila, Marikina prepare cold storage facilities for COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippine The local governments of Manila and Marikina have prepared their respective cold storage facilities for the vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On Wednesday, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso personally inspected a room in Sta. Ana Hospital which is being set up as a cold chain management vaccine storage room.

Domagoso earlier announced that the city government will purchase initial 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.

Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro also said they have prepared a storage room in the city’s Health Department Office for the vaccines that are expected to be delivered in the coming months.

The Marikina government earlier said it has allocated P82.7 million for the purchase of the vaccines.

The Department of Health said that aside from local facilities, it is also tapping the private sector for the establishment of cold storage facilities in various parts of the country.

It is primarily considering opening cold chain hubs in Bicol, Cebu, and Zamboanga while the central hub will be in Metro Manila.

While negotiations for vaccine supply deals are ongoing, vaccine czar and National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said they are also working on the logistics, delivery, and distribution of the vaccines.

“Ang gagawin lang po natin is gagawa tayo ng magandang Gantt chart at saka yung synchronization matrix, i-synchronize lang po natin na kapag dumating kaagad ideploy natin po kaagad. Yun po ang gagawin namin kasi magaling naman po ang logistics ng armed forces, at saka yung logistics ng supply chain na pwede natin kunin kanilang services,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

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