SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go said that the government is exploring multiple sources of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access of Filipinos to safe and effective vaccines to overcome the ongoing pandemic.
Go also mentioned that the private sector has also been raising funds so they may assist the country in acquiring sufficient number of vaccines for Filipinos.
“Ang private sector, magre-raise din po. May iba pa. Pinag-aaralan na po, it doesn’t matter kung saan manggagaling as long as safe and effective,” said Go.
Go also mentioned that the country is aiming to finalize its negotiations with Sinovac Biotech to acquire 25 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine for delivery by March next year.
During a radio interview on Friday, December 20, Go said that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. is presently in advanced discussion with the vaccine company to strike a deal that would be beneficial to the country’s fight against COVID-19.
“Ngayon, marami na pong kinakausap ang ating vaccine czar. Meron na silang advanced discussion sa Sinovac, possible shipment March 2021, twenty five million doses,” Go said.
Go stressed that he does not believe that the procurement of vaccines from Chinese company Sinovac has anything to do with preference, stressing that market availability is the primary consideration of the government for conducting negotiations with the company for the vaccines.
“‘Di po ako naniniwala kung ano koneksyon nito, sa China man. May pandemya, magtulungan tayo. Sabi nga, no one is safe until everyone is safe, depende na po ito sa availability sa market,” explained Go
The Senator said that Galvez is also in talks with several other vaccine companies that can supply the country with the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Nakapag-usap na rin sila sa Gamaleya, ongoing talks, ‘di pa masabi kung kelan. Pfizer po, advanced discussion. Johnson & Johnson, (confidentiality disclosure agreement) being finalized, AstraZeneca, for another twenty million,” he explained.
“Siguraduhin nating priority ang mahihirap, vulnerable at frontliners, safe and effective dapat, saan man ito kukunin,” he added.
Meanwhile, Go repeated his challenge to Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Galvez to inject themselves first with the vaccine to allay the fears of some people and build their confidence in its safety and efficacy.
“Kung ‘di natin ma-attain ‘yan, takot ang Pilipino, kaya nga po kina Sec. Duque at Galvez, mauna sila,” he said.
“(This is) to encourage naman po at mawala ang takot ng mga tao, pero dapat unahin natin ang poor, vulnerable, and frontliners, of course. Sila ang nangunguna sa labang ito — sundalo, guro, medical workers. Huwag rin natin pabayaan ang mga senior citizens natin na vulnerable and, especially, ang mga mahihirap na kailangan lumabas at magtrabaho — dapat po libre ito sa mahihirap,” mentioned Go.
In earlier interviews, Go said that a national vaccine roadmap has already been prepared for a systematic distribution of the vaccine once it is deemed safe and effective. He encouraged concerned agencies to properly communicate and implement the vaccine program to assure the public that the government is doing its best to restore normalcy amid the ongoing pandemic.
“Napaka-importante po sa vaccine na ito ang issue ng affordability at accessibility. Unang una, pagdating sa availability — dapat po unahin ang mahihirap nating kababayan,” he reiterated.
Once the vaccines are available, Go emphasized that members of poor and vulnerable sector should be prioritized in the immunization against COVID-19.
As for government officials and those who can afford, Go said that many of them are willing to pay for their own vaccinations as long as it is proven safe and effective. This is the reason why the poor and the vulnerable must be prioritized.