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Astra Zeneca vaccine picked by most LGUs

Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday reitrerated that frontliners, health workers and senior citizens will be the first to get the first shots of the “Astra Zeneca” — the vaccine for COVID-19 preferred by most local government units (LGUs).

According to DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 laid out the list of available vaccines on the market and LGUs were provided with pertinent data on the vaccines that passed the scrutiny of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) ensuring theier safety.

An initial of 50-70 million Filipinos, Malaya said, will be vaccinated as he noted that the LGUs were also briefed on the possible scheduled delivery dates of the vaccine.

The DILG official also noted that the second criteria for consideration in the distribution of the vaccine is the attack rate of COVID-19 cases in certain areas.

And citing the recent slight rise of cases in the National Capital Region due to complacency in the post holiday season, Metro Manilans will be prioritized to get the initial deliveries.

“So nakakapili po sila (LGUs) kung ano po yung preference (COVID-19 vaccine) nila. As a matter of fact ang karamihan sa kanila pinili na ngayon yung Astra Zeneca,’’ he said.

The LGUs however, were allowed to independently negotiate for the purchase of their vaccines under a tripartite agreement but they have to coordinate with the NTF since the pharmaceutical firms are barred from selling the vaccine directly to localities.

“It is only through the national government kasi nga po ito ay EUA (Emergency Use Authorization),’’ he added.

The DILG official explained that the national government is not fully reliant on the LGUs since some of them may have insufficient funds to purchase the vaccine.

Under the 2021 budget, Congress according to Malaya, has set aside a substantial amount for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Gusto ko lang po emphasize na ito pong procurement ng mga LGUs ay augmentation lang po ito. Whether or not may pondo yung LGU meron po talagang national vaccination program ang ating pamahalaan,” he pointed out.

When asked of the vaccines’ safety, Malaya gave assurances that the administration will only roll out a COVID-19 vaccine that passed through expert panels and is certified by the FDA.

Moderna vaccines

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez yesterday said the Philippines is in the final stages of negotiating for the procurement of up to 20 million Covid vaccines from American biotechnology company Moderna.

In a post on the official Facebook Page of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, Romualdez said the vaccines are expected to be delivered to the Philippines beginning in mid-2021.

“I am pleased to share that, following months of discussions with Moderna, the Philippines is in the final stages of negotiating for the supply of a minimum of 10 million doses of mRNA-1273, the company’s vaccines, with the option to purchase an additional 10 million doses, for delivery beginning in mid-2021,” Romualdez said.

“I welcome the pledge of support of the private sector led by ICTSI’s Enrique Razon in shipping and distributing the vaccines from the manufacturing facility in Spain to the Philippines at no cost to the Philippine government,” the Ambassador added.

Last month, Romualdez reported that aside from Pfizer, American companies Moderna and Arcturus are ready to supply the Philippines anywhere between 4-25 million of their respective vaccines starting in the third quarter of 2021, should the Philippine government find their proposals acceptable. With Cristina Lee-Pisco