By Filane Mikee Cervantes
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– Malacañang on Tuesday said the national government would shoulder the costs of procuring coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines for local government units (LGUs) with meager funds.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said other LGUs would still be allowed to purchase their own supply of vaccines for their constituents.
This came after several provinces and cities have already allocated funds for buying Covid-19 jabs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, with the cities of Makati, Quezon, and Taguig setting aside PHP1 billion each.
“Ang national government nga po, ang NTF (National Task Force) handa na siya mismo ang bumili para sa lahat. Pero dahil ang mga LGUs ay may mga pondo naman sila at mayroon silang kakayahan at ninanais nila talagang tulungan ang national government, hindi po natin minasama iyon at tinanggap natin iyong kanilang mga offer na tumulong,” Roque said in a press briefing.
In a separate press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the national government has allotted PHP75 billion for the Covid-19 vaccines for 57 million Filipinos.
Nograles said several local government units have also allocated funds to buy Covid-19 vaccines for the 13 million residents.
Prioritizing health workers
Meanwhile, Roque noted that the first 50,000 of the 25 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac would all go to the health workers.
“Mauuna po iyong mga priority areas na health workers ang bibigyan. Pero ang initial agreement po ‘no – although, hindi pa po ito in the form of a resolution – ay uubusin ang lahat ng health workers muna sa Pilipinas (Priority will be given to those priority areas that health workers will be given. But the initial agreement ‘no – although, it is not yet in the form of a resolution – will consume all vaccines to health workers in the Philippines first) before we move on to the next sector,” Roque said.
After all, the medical front-liners have been inoculated, other sectors that would be prioritized include the senior citizens, indigent citizens, and uniformed personnel.
He said Sinovac will deliver additional 950,000 doses of vaccines in March, 1 million doses in April, 1 million doses in May, and 2 million doses in June until all 25 million doses are delivered by December this year.
Aside from Sinovac, the government has also signed deals for vaccines developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca.
Roque noted that some 30 million doses of the Indian-made Covovax vaccine would be delivered by the third quarter.
The government has also been negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Gamaleya Institute. (PNA)