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Duterte OKs P2.5B fund to vaccinate 22M Pinoys

PRESIDENT Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has already approved the use of P2.5 billion in order to vaccinate some 22 million Filipinos for coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) should one be made available.

This was revealed during the meeting of the House committee on people participation chaired by San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes, by Dr. Aleli Annie Grace Sudiacal of Department of Health’s Bureau of International Health Cooperation, who said that the President has already given his approval to use the P2.5 billion allotted for the purchase of COVID-19 under the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.

The panel has been conducting meetings in a bid to coordinate and facilitate efforts in the development of vaccine for COVID-19.

Robes expressed elation over the latest vaccine development saying that it gives hope to the Filipino people who have long been hoping and praying for a vaccine for COVID-19.

“We would like to commend the tireless efforts of the President and the IATF to help our countrymen and find a vaccine. We are almost there I think. With these new developments, we will be able to go back to normal very soon,” Robes said.

Sudiacal explained that COVAX facility is a global sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine once they are licensed and approved.

It is expected to provide vaccination for three to 20 percent of the population or 3.2 million to 22 million Filipinos.

She stressed that Covax facility pools together the world’s philanthropists, international non-governmental organizations and other groups to be able to talk to manufacturers to produce vaccines based on the need of a country, regardless of their economic standing.

She added that the Philippines is eligible under the COVAX system because it is a low middle income country which signified its intention to be part of the system. However, the country needs to pay US$1.6 to US$2 per dose to be able to be take part in it.

“As you all know we have RA 9184 or the Procurement Act which prohibits advance payment for something that is still not there. That is why we had to seek the intervention of the President and it’s very good news that the President has approved the use of the P2.5 billion allotted for the purchase of vaccines for the Philippines to have access to the Covax facility,” she told the committee.

With the President’s approval, the country may get access for around 20 percent of the population once a vaccine or several vaccines become available. She said funding will from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.