P2.5-B budget for COVID-19 vaccine only an initial outlay — Roque

MANILA, Sept 19 (Mabuhay) — The “meager” P2.5-billion budget for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine is just an initial allocation, and the government is doing and looking for other ways to secure the medicine for Filipinos, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Saturday.

Roque clarified the Department of Health’s concern that the allocation is inadequate.  “Well, panimula lang po yan dahil ang pribadong sector, yung mga may kaya mag-aangkat at kakayanin nilang magbayad.”

He pointed out that what is important is we know already how to procure the vaccine with the help of government financial institutions, such as the Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

But in terms of reservations, he admitted that the government is negotiating with manufacturers.

“Pagdating sa reservations, nakikiusap tayo sa manufacturers para magkaroon tayo ng alokasyon, kasi ang bibilhin naman natin ay 40 million doses for 20 million poorest of the poor.”

This is one of the steps that the government is doing, that is why the President is looking at China and Russia for better procurement terms, he said.

“Unlike Western manufacturers, which demand an advance payment for the reservation, the two countries do not.”

Moreover, he said that another way to secure reservations is the government’s move to allow manufacturers to conduct clinical trials in the country for the vaccines they are producing.

“Pumapayag tayo na dito sa Pilipinas gagawin ang ilang clinical trials nang sa ganun, dahil meron tayong contribution sa pag-develop ng vaccine mauna rin tayo makakuha,” Roque said. (MNS)

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