President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law yesterday a measure that aims to fast-track the administration of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines and establish a P500-million indemnification fund.
This was confirmed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go in a press statement. Photos released by Go showed Duterte signing the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.
Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the newly-signed law.
The signing came after Congress no longer convened a bicameral conference committee since Senate Bill 2057, or the proposed Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act passed by the Senate on Feb. 23, was adopted by the House of Representatives on the same day.
The law tasks the Department of Health and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 to supervise the negotiated purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as the needed supplies and services for their storage, transport, and distribution.
It also authorizes local government units to procure Covid-19 vaccines and needed supplies and services.
Private firms, the law states, are also allowed to purchase vaccines, subject to similar restrictions and conditions set for LGUs and only for their sole and exclusive use.
The Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act also provides that the procurement, importation, donation, storage, transport, deployment, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines will be exempted from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, and other fees.
Under the law, a P500-million indemnity fund will also be created for any person who experiences adverse effects after getting inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.
The fund will be sourced from the 2021 national budget’s Contingent Fund and administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The Department of Health reported 561 new recoveries from Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total recoveries to 524,582, or 91.8 percent of all infections.
In its daily Covid-19 bulletin, the DOH reported 2,651 new infections, with active cases now at 34,498 or six percent of the country’s 571,327 total cases.
Of the active cases, 88.4 percent have mild symptoms, 6.4 percent are asymptomatic, 2.3 percent are in critical condition, 2.1 percent have severe symptoms, and 0.74 experience moderate symptoms.
Some 46 individuals were reported to have succumbed to the disease, with the country’s total deaths against Covid-19 accounting for 2.14 percent of all cases.
It said 28,892 tests for Covid-19 were administered based on reports received on Thursday and 2,088, or 7.2 percent, tested positive for the disease.
Meanwhile, the majority of the health care facilities in the country remain unoccupied, with 1,900 beds in intensive care units at 60 percent availability, 13,500 isolation beds at 67 percent availability, 6,000 ward beds at 78 percent availability, and 2,000 ventilators at 80 percent availability.*PNA