BAGUIO

Benguet town allots P23M for Covid-19 vaccine

SOME P28 million will be allotted by La Trinidad in Benguet, as the town hopes to secure the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine and assured to follow national government guidelines.

Following the initial discussion with the local finance on Tuesday, January 5, Mayor Romeo Salda said they will rely on the government guidelines on the vaccination program, as they cannot directly purchase vaccines from any non-government organizations and companies offering vaccines to them.

"We will follow guidelines from the national government, indigent, senior citizen, and frontliners to be prioritized for the vaccine, if they want," Salda said.

The local government appropriated P23 million for the Bayanihan 2 submitted and received by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last December but as of January 5, the DBM has yet to respond.

The matter was also endorsed to Benguet caretaker Representative Eric Go Yap.

Salda said out of the P23 million, P8 million is for the purchase of the vaccine, P2.8 million for the purchase of the ambulance and P500,000 for the rent for the Concordia College, one of the identified isolation facilities located in the town, P5 million for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, and P5 million for food.

Salda said for the supplemental budget of the town, Covid-19 vaccines will also be one of their priorities.

"Because of the affected budget for 2021, we did not appropriate for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine. What we know is that it will be provided by the national government, now that some local government units have included in their budget. So for this year, if we will be having a supplemental budget that [Covid-19 vaccine] will be our priority," Salda added.

Meanwhile, during the Laging Handa public briefing on January 6, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force chief implementer, said the Philippines and Colombia will be the first two countries to take part in the World Health Organization's (WHO) solidarity vaccine trial and that 15,000 volunteers from the country, particularly from the Metro Manila, will be participating in the trial.

Galvez added this is aimed to have a full evaluation for safety and efficacy of candidate vaccine, citing the government has a portfolio of vaccines from various manufacturers to ensure there is ample supply of vaccine part for the year 2021.

He said they are in advance stages of negotiation with Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnsons, Sinovac and Gamaleya and they hope to close deal with the said companies this month.

Aside from bilateral negotiations, Galvez said the Philippines stand to receive fully subsidized dozes for 20 percent (of the country's population) or equivalent 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.

"Based on current negotiations, target number doses of 148 million for 2021 however it will be dependent on the global supply," Galvez said.

As of December 4, 2020, 80 percent of the global supply has gone to rich countries.

Under the roadmap for the implementation of the vaccination program against Covid-19, Galvez said they are targeting 50 million to 70 million Filipinos to be vaccinated for 2021.

Prioritization will be given to sectors in the eligible group: health care workers, vulnerable, indigents senior citizens, poor communities, uniformed personnel, teachers, and school workers, government workers, essential workers vulnerable and co-morbid groups, OFWs and other remaining work force, students.

The official said the vaccine will be a private and local government unit (LGU) partnership and not the sole responsibility of the national government, pointing out the whole government and whole nation approach to be adopted to ensure coordinated implementation of the Covid-19 immunization program.

In the implementation, he added the LGUs will be in charge of identifying, profiling the priority sector, in their population, and support the vaccine programs rolled out. The private sector to provide technical and financial support.

On Wednesday, January 6, Dr. Socorro Escalante of WHO said there has been a wide-scale and rapid development of vaccines, noting 232 candidate vaccines being developed, 172 of which are in the preclinical stage still being checked in the laboratory while 60 of the vaccines in the phase of the clinical trial.

She said the Philippines is on track in terms of its preparation for the vaccines introduction and vaccine roll-out, including distribution of vaccines across the country.

"The first priority is the health workers because the rationale is to protect our health workers to sustain our public health system for Covid-19," Socorro added.


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