P50-M vaccine fund set

FUNDS to purchase vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is being readied in Baguio City.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda has proposed to the City Council an appropriation of P50 million for the purchase of an anti-Covid vaccine when it is available.

Tabanda said while clinical trial on the anti-Covid vaccine is ongoing, the national government said that it has set aside P20 billion for the purchase of the anti-Covid vaccine when it becomes available, which is estimated to be by the last quarter of the year or early next year.

The National Government has also announced that not everyone would be able to receive it because it has to prioritize the sectors who will be the first to be given the shot.

"We cannot depend entirely on the National Government to supply our vaccine needs. Thus, there is an urgent need to appropriate a certain amount which we can readily access to purchase our own vaccine, on top of what the National Government will give us since there are no funds readily accessible in our 2020 budget for this purpose," Tabanda said.

The proposed move was made through an ordinance, which was passed in its first reading during this week's regular session.

The purchase shall be done in accordance with the Department of Health (DOH)-Cordillera guidelines and it will come from any available funds of the city, or from items that may be re-aligned to meet the fund requirement for the purchase.

Tabanda said the Covid-19 is more than a health crisis or a global pandemic. "It is also an unparalleled economic crisis that results to significant loss of job and income, business recession, reduced trade and industry activities and a decline in the business and job opportunities."

"The phenomenon that has altered everyone's way of life, and the uncertainty as to when everything will be back to normal remains dim as no vaccine has been developed up to the present against the virus," said Tabanda.

As of August 11, there are 180 active Covid-19 cases in Baguio City, with five deaths and a case fatality rate of 2.78 percent.

On the heels of requiring company-financed Covid-19 tests for bank employees, Mayor Benjamin Magalong is set to issue the same call for grocery and department store workers in the city.

The measure was prompted by a confirmed clustering of cases in one of the local grocery stores in the central business district which has voluntarily closed shop for two weeks.

Magalong said analytics has prompted the order for testing among all employees at a grocery store on Mabini Street August 8.

Results showed that out of 64 workers, 14 tested positive for the virus.

The mayor said the incident is a warning sign of the disease vulnerability of the said sector, which the city should heed and since the city does not have enough resources to test all the workers, companies must shoulder the cost.

"Just like what we did with the banks, we will send a letter to all supermarkets and grocery stores requiring management to subject all employees to swab tests at their expense," Magalong said.

The mayor earlier required banks to subject their personnel to Reverse Transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) after the risk-based expanded testing done by the city found a number of them infected.

The mayor said the banks have been complying, resulting in the discovery of more infections in their ranks, which now run to over 30 cases.

Besides the testing requirement, the mayor said the city had also engaged the banks and security agencies in enhancing health and safety protocols and standards for their workers and customers with the same to be done with department and grocery stores in the city with a review and fine tuning of rules to protect both workers and clients. (With reports from the Baguio City Public Information Office)


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