The government targets to inoculate about 50 to 70 million individuals this year, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.
“The massive nationwide vaccination program is anchored on the Philippine national vaccine roadmap. Its goal is to achieve the full recovery of our economy and the lives of our Filipino people,” Galvez said during a Laging Handa public briefing.
Galvez said the government will carry out a strategic framework of the national vaccine roadmap.
He said safety and efficacy are some of the key considerations of the government in buying Covid-19 vaccines.
Galvez said the World Health Organization solidarity vaccine trial is set to begin in the country this month.
“This month, the Philippines and Colombia would take part in WHO solidarity vaccine trial,” Galvez said, noting that about 15,000 volunteers will be participating in the trial.
Meanwhile, Galvez said the government is strictly conducting a full evaluation of the vaccine candidates to ensure the procurement of safe and efficient Covid-19 vaccines.
“The government has the portfolios of the [candidate] vaccines, which means we have many sources from various manufacturers to make sure that we can acquire enough vaccines for all, particularly this year 2021,” he said.
He said the government will strategically prioritize the inoculation of healthcare workers as well as members of vulnerable sectors, such as senior citizens.
It will also initially vaccinate essential workers that are vulnerable and those belong to the co-morbid groups, the overseas Filipino workers, and the remaining workforce in the country.
Galvez noted that the implementation of the nationwide vaccination program “is not the sole responsibility of the government.
“The government cannot do it alone. This is the reason why the whole-of-government and the whole-of-nation approach shall be adopted,” he said.
There is a need to maximize manpower, expertise, and processes to ensure coordinated and integrated implementation of the vaccination campaign, he added.
Galvez cited the significant role of local government units and the private sector in the Covid-19 vaccination program.
He re-echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that LGUs will be in charge of identifying and profiling the priority sectors who will initially get Covid-19 jabs.
Galvez said LGUs are tasked to support the national government in the mass rollout of the nationwide vaccination program.
Meanwhile, the private sector, he added, will provide invaluable, technical, and financial support in the procurement of the vaccines as well as the deployment of possible Covid-19 vaccines, particularly in setting up of cold chain logistics.
“In recognition of this, the President recently approved the tripartite agreement between the national government, the LGUs, and the vaccine companies,” Galvez said.
Galvez reiterated that the government is serious about providing a safe and efficient Covid-19 vaccine which will be given free to all Filipinos.
The country is now in advanced stages of negotiations with six Covid-19 vaccine developers as it eyes to close deals for 148 million doses.
Galvez said the government has been negotiating with various pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca, Novavax, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Gamaleya Institute.
“We hope to close the deal with these companies this month,” Galvez said.
He added the government expects to secure some 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, once the ongoing negotiations push through with these companies.
Aside from government efforts on the bilateral negotiations, Galvez said the country “stands to receive fully-subsidized doses” for the 20 percent of the country’s population which corresponds to 22 million Filipinos, through the Covax facility.
“This is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines,” he said.
“Based on our current negotiations, we will be able to purchase to at least 148 million doses from more or less seven manufacturers, however, it will be dependent on the global supply,” he added. Galvez, meanwhile, said rich countries have already procured 80 percent of the global supply of the Covid-19 vaccine.*PNA