Bacolod City and the provincial government of Negros Occidental were among several local government units that joined the signing yesterday of a memorandum of agreement with AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company to acquire another 17 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
The Philippine government, LGUs, private sector donors, and AstraZeneca signed the MOA to secure additional doses of coronavirus vaccine as the country prepares for its immunization program this year.
“AstraZeneca maintains our strong commitment to ensuring equitable access to the vaccine at no profit for the duration of the pandemic,” AstraZeneca Philippines country president Lotis Ramin said at a private sector-led A Dose of Hope program.
A Dose of Hope program is an initiative of the private sector, led by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, to donate Covid-19 vaccines.
In November 2020, more than 30 members of the private sector also committed to donate 2.6 million Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca.
In the second wave of the donation, more than 300 private sector donors committed to shoulder the acquisition of more vaccines from the European pharmaceutical company.
“We are working closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine lives up to the highest safety standards and its introduction complies with healthcare regulations in the Philippines,” Ramin said.
She said AstraZeneca is currently working with the Food and Drug Administration “on the preparations for a swift yet thorough science-led Emergency Use Authorization review”.
Concepcion said the demand for AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the private sector and the LGUs is immense.
“These vaccines are really the way forward in helping our Filipino people save lives and livelihoods,” he said.
Concepcion also thanked National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. for allowing the LGUs to be involved in the procurement of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
“The Philippines definitely will not be left behind in this fight. We will be vaccinating our Filipino people hopefully starting June (or) July,” he said.
Aside from Bacolod and Negros Occidental, other LGUs that joined the signing were Caloocan City, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay City, Pasig City, Quezon City, San Juan City, Valenzuela City, and Las Piñas from the National Capital Region.
Also present during the signing of the deal were the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Quirino, and Iloilo, and LGUs of Baguio City, Dagupan City, San Nicolas in Pangasinan, Puerto Princesa City, Pulilan in Bulacan, Sta. Rosa City in Laguna, Taal in Batangas, Vigan, Ormoc City, Palompon in Leyte, Iloilo City, Davao City, Oroquieta City, and Zamboanga City.
President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the signing of the agreement, and described the deal as a “true showcase of unity of purpose and principled partnership benefiting our public”.
“This is bayanihan at work. To everyone involved in the ‘A Dose of Hope’ project, I congratulate you on this achievement. To all who helped and continue to grow this tripartite partnership, thank you very much,” he said in a recorded speech aired during the ceremonial signing.
Duterte commended the business community and the LGUs for ramping up support for the country’s fight against Covid-19.
“Together, we can ensure a safe, sure, and secure rollout of our national immunization program. Today, let us reaffirm our vow to ourselves and renew our guarantee to our people: From approval to vaccine administration, the priority will be the health and safety of every Filipino,” he said.
As the world continues to grapple with the impact of Covid-19, he expressed hope that national recovery is within sight. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. National recovery is within sight,” he said. “We now have the weapon to defeat this virus, the vaccine. Let’s win this war and save lives and livelihoods.”*PNA