BAGUIO

Domondon: Scrambling for safety

Open Season

AS OF this writing, Bloomberg, an international news agency (Wikipedia), reports that based on data they have collected, 193 million doses of various kinds of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered across 87 countries around the globe and at a daily rate of roughly 6.47 million doses a day.

From an overall view, this is as good as it gets at the moment in the effort to insulate the world population against the coronavirus and put an end to the pandemic. As can be expected leading the Covid-19 vaccine campaign are the richest countries in the world who possess not only the financial resources but the influence and political clout as well in negotiating and procuring millions of vaccine doses from pharmaceutical institutions for their people. Foreseeing this situation, a global collaboration was established known as the Covax or more formally the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, which aims to speed up development, manufacture and equitable distribution of new vaccines.

In layman's terms, Covax is all about "procuring and delivering doses of a safe, effective and approved vaccine for fair distribution around the world." This global collaboration and initiative is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), and works in partnership with developed and developing countries who are manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines.

Under the Covax facility, the Philippines as a beneficiary stands to receive a subsidized vaccine allocation that will initially cover about 20 percent of the country's population. This means that the vaccines allocated by Covax to the country beneficiary will be free of charge. Now if the Philippines is interested to buy the vaccines, it can do so through Covax since this will be deemed cheaper because the price is being negotiated globally via the said facility. Of course, if the country will decide to buy its own supply of vaccines, it will be on top of the 20 percent that the Covax will provide for free.

As it stands right now, the Philippines through its national government is doing its best under the prevailing circumstances to implement measures that would not only facilitate the procurement of vaccines but would also guarantee that the ultimate goal of achieving herd immunity is achieved at the soonest possible time. Malacanang already announced that for this year along the country will have enough coronavirus vaccines for its adult population. In a televised news briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told the public that the country is expected to be provided with 44 million doses of vaccines under the Covax facility, as well as 25 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine from China which is expected to arrive this February. The country is also expecting to get as many as 15 million doses from Russia's Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, 30 million does from Novavax Inc. and 17 million doses from British drugmaker Astrazenica in the next quarter of the year. Roque also said that 20 million doses from Moderna Inc. and 15 million doses from Pfizer will arrive during the third quarter of the year.

With respect to Congress, they have yet to pass a law that would establish mechanisms in the negotiation and procurement of Covid-19 vaccines for the country as well as its distribution and utilization in the local government units (LGUs) concerned. The latest information coming from their end is that the Senate will discuss in the plenary a bill dubbed the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and will be seeking its swift approval. Under the said proposed law, it will authorize the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) to undertake negotiations for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as for their storage, transport and distribution. The bill will also allow LGUs to purchase the vaccines and ancillary supplies and services in cooperation with the DOH and the NTF through multi-party agreements. The LGUs will likewise be allowed to make advance payments but only for the purchase of vaccines and supplies for up to 50 percent of their target population. There is a provision in the bill however, which says that the 50 percent cap may be adjusted by the IATF depending on the availability of the vaccine supply.

So there you have it, everybody is doing their best in trying to reach that elusive goal of herd immunity that will practically end the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, while everything is in a state of so-called expectancy, we can only hope that the effort in purchasing vaccines for the Filipino people will come sooner rather than later. In the Bloomberg report the list of 87 countries across the globe already implementing their vaccination campaign does not yet include the Philippines.


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