Palace views Filipinos’ willingness to get COVID-19 vaccine as trust in gov’t plan

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020   •   205

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Friday welcomed the result of the latest survey which showed a majority of Filipinos are willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Social Weather Station (SWS) survey conducted from Sept. 17-20 revealed that 66% of adult Filipinos are willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine if it is available now while 31% said they are not willing to get the vaccine.

“We view this as a positive development as this means that more Filipinos trust the current government’s vaccination program,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“We, however, hope there will be a significant increase in the number of Filipinos willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants all Filipinos to get vaccines, with priority given to the poor, indigents and other vulnerable sectors,” he added.

Roque on Thursday announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the release of advance payments to COVID-19 vaccine developers to ensure that the Philippines will get a supply once these become available in the market.

Emergency approval for COVID-19 vaccine possible in January 2021 – FDA

Marje Pelayo   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expects the availability of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to be earlier than the initial plan following the approval of Executive Order No. 121.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently approved the order which authorizes the FDA to give emergency use authorization to COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.

FDA Director-General USec. Eric Domingo said the President’s decision was a surprise as they were expecting other major countries to move first.

“Nagulat din tayo sa bilis ng mga pangyayari. Ang inexpect po natin actually ay ang US at UK ay magbibigay ng EUA, end of the month ng December kaya ang ini-expect ko po talaga ay mga January pa magkakaroon tayo ng applications dito sa Pilipinas,” he said.

[We were also surprised as things happened so fast. We were expecting that the US and the UK will issue an EUA by the end of December so we were expecting applications here in the Philippines by January.]

“Pero mukhang accelerated po lahat. Ang UK nagbigay na ng EUA, ang US FDA ang balita po natin within one to two weeks magbibigay na rin sila ng EUA sa ilang kumpanya,” he added.

[But it seems everything has been accelerated. The UK already issued an EUA and the US FDA, for what we know, will issue an EUA within one to two weeks to several companies.]

Domingo said the FDA can expedite the approval process to 21 days instead of the initial plan of six months for the vaccine to be immediately available.

The official said it is possible that by the first quarter of 2021, a COVID-19 vaccine would be available because as soon as vaccine manufacturers submit their application for an EUA along with the required documents here in the Philippines, the agency will immediately process them.

Kapag nag apply po sila dito sa atin, then maaring by first few weeks of January ay meron na rin po tayong maibigay na emergency use authorization. At baka mapaaga ng kaunti or baka magkaroon ng chance na baka mga March ay magkaroon na ng bakuna dito sa Pilipinas,” Domingo said.

[Once they apply here, most likely in the first few weeks of January, we can issue the emergency use authorization. It may even be earlier, probably by March, we would have a vaccine available already here in the Philippines.]

Domingo said an approved COVID-19 vaccine will be given authorization for use in the public health program of the Department of Health (DOH).

He said the DOH will be among the agencies that will decide as to when and to whom the vaccine will be administered first. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

PH gov’t tapping 3 sources for COVID-19 vaccine fund – DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government has identified three sources for its planned P73.2 billion novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine fund that will enable the inoculation of the targeted 60 million Filipinos against the virus, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the funding sources include multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), from which the government can obtain around P40 billion through “low-cost, long-term loans.”

The government is also tapping P20 billion from domestic government financial institutions (GFIs) such as the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), he added.

Dominguez said the remaining P13.2 billion will be sourced from bilateral negotiations with countries from where the vaccines would originate, such as the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).

“So ang total niyan is about P73.2 billion financing–that is pretty much almost fixed. Most of it is already fixed. P13.2 billion hindi pa completely negotiated. So P73.2 billion,” Dominguez said during a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City on Monday.

According to Dominguez, the estimated fund were based on an average vaccine cost of P1,200 per person.

“Some are lower, some are higher so we don’t know exactly how much is the cost. But let say, US$25 or P1,200. P73.2 billion is good for 60 million people to be vaccinated,” he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that inoculating 60 million Filipinos may enable the country to reach “herd immunity,” based on pronouncements from the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Herd immunity” is a vaccination term in which a population becomes protected from a particular virus after reaching a threshold or certain number of vaccinated people.

Citing a WHO report, Duque said that herd immunity can be acquired if 60 to 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, which means that with 60 million inoculated Filipinos the country would “pretty much arrest the spread” of the virus.

President Duterte previously said that the country’s poorest population, and members of the military and police and other essential workers will be among those to be given priority in the would-be government’s COVID-19 immunization drive.

Duterte wants cops, soldiers to be first to get COVID-19 shot

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to include policemen and soldiers in the list of sectors to be given priority in the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mass vaccination, citing their importance especially during times of emergencies.

“I need a healthy military and police kasi ‘pag magkasakit lahat ‘yan, wala na akong maasahan, wala na tayong mautusan kung gawin ‘to, gawin doon,” Duterte said during his meeting with the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Monday.

The president described the police and the military as the “errand boys of the Republic,” since uniformed personnel are at the forefront in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as rescue and relief efforts in areas affected by recent calamities.

“Kita naman ninyo ‘yung baha sa Luzon, several, nakita ninyo ‘yung military, Coast Guard, lahat na pumupunta na doon, pulis. And then they have to take care of the law and order situation,” he said.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said they will make use of geographical and sectoral strategies in the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

Areas with high cases of COVID-19 such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu will be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccines.

Once the infected areas have been selected, vaccines will then be distributed to the target beneficiaries including essential workers, poor and vulnerable sectors.

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

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