WITH developers inching closer to finding vaccine for coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) appealed to the government Saturday, October 17, not to prioritize those who are considered wealthy, powerful, and influential.
In a Moral Guidance, the CBCP asked the National Government to ensure that those who have more in life will not have the initial allocation of the would-be Covid-19 vaccines.
"We propose this allocation plan for the Covid-19 vaccine that prioritizes those who are at most risk for infection or for severe disease because of our concern that, in the Philippines, vaccines may be allocated first to those who are wealthy, powerful, and influential," said the CBCP.
The bishops said this is because prioritizing the said class of the society will not help in quickly solving the prevailing health crisis.
"The goal of a vaccination campaign should be to reduce mortality and to protect the health care infrastructure of our country," said the CBCP.
"This would not efficiently mitigate deaths in our communities and would delay the end of the pandemic in our country. This would be a great moral and social tragedy," it added.
Instead of the wealthy, powerful, and influential, the prelates said priority must be given to all medical frontliners, who are at high risk for infection because of their vocation as healthcare professionals.
The CBCP said adults, who are at high risk for severe disease because of their age or underlying medical conditions, should be next to receive a vaccine.
The bishops said essential workers, whose roles are inherently risky because of necessary interactions with the public and are also important for the common good, should come in third.
Finally, the CBCP said individuals, who are living in dense urban areas, where they are vulnerable to the virus, must also be among the priorities.
"We urge our National Government to provide the Covid-19 vaccine to everyone without cost to the individual. Otherwise, it will not be available to the poor," said the CBCP.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said priority will be given to the poorest Filipino households, soldiers, and police as soon as a Covid-19 vaccine is available.
The CBCP similarly called on the government to exercise full transparency during the forthcoming conduct of the clinical trials for candidate Covid-19 vaccines.
The bishops said transparency must be foremost in every step of the Phase III clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccine.
"Full transparency is critical at every step of the development and distribution of a candidate vaccine to ensure the safety and effectiveness of every approved vaccine in an immunization campaign," said the CBCP.
"This will help bolster public confidence in the initiatives of medical and governmental authorities," it added.
This, the CBCP said, means that before any Phase III clinical trial begins, the results of Phases I and II trials must be evaluated by designated ethics and expert panels and approved by national regulatory agencies and that data should be made publicly available so that other scientists and medical professionals can confirm the safety and efficacy of the candidate vaccine.
At the conclusion of the protocol, the CBCP said the findings of the Phase III clinical trial must also be made public, regardless of outcome.
"It is our prayer that the clinical trials conducted in our country will benefit the global effort to end the pandemic," it said.
To note, United States firm Johnson & Johnson-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Chinese company Sinovac, and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute have all applied to conduct Phase III of the clinical trials for their candidate Covid-19 vaccines. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)