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DOH assures funds to buy COVID-19 vaccine

November 21, 2020 - Saturday 6:11 PM by PNA

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MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) assured on Saturday that it has funds to buy the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine once available.

In the Laging Handa public briefing aired over the state-run PTV4, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they also have assurance from the House of Representatives for additional funds in case it is needed.

“Kung sa pera meron tayong na approve na PHP2.5 billion sa aming general appropriations bill at nag commit naman ang ating mga legislators that we will be adding some more sa budget ng vaccine (on the funding we have already an approved PHP2.5 billion under the general appropriations bill and the legislators have committed that they will be adding some more budget for the vaccine),” Vergeire said.

She said their initial estimate then was at PHP3 billion when other information regarding the other Covid-19 vaccines were not yet available.

“We estimated that we are going to procure about 22 million doses times two for 22 million population,” she said.

She added that part of the PHP3 billion is the PHP1.3 billion that will be allocated for the cold storage for the vaccines.

Now that information regarding other Covid-19 vaccines being developed by other manufacturers to which the country may negotiate, Vergeire said they are updating their estimate.

She also gave the assurance that the DOH will inform the public on the revised estimation.

Vergeire clarified that clinical trials that will be done in the country will not have any effect on the DOH procurement plan.

She said the DOH is currently looking at two options -- first are the vaccines that will have clinical trials in the country, and second is the vaccines that may be procured but will not be conducting their clinical trial here.

Vergeire said the country is open for manufacturers planning to conduct their clinical trials here.

“We are open to that and it's not going to affect our procurement plan, it will be part of that plan wherein after the clinical trial and the result is good then we may include that among the list of vaccines that we may procure,” Vergeire said.

She added that clinical trials are to check if a new technology or in this case, a new vaccine, is safe and efficacious.

In case the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available, she said the health care workers will be prioritized. This will be followed by the senior citizens and the indigents.

She said the prioritization is based on the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The DOH does not want to refer to the flattening of the curve anymore. Vergeire said what they can say is that the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is on a downward trend based on the number of cases being reported daily.

She added that it can also be noted that the critical care utilization facilities for Covid-19 patients in the country have improved and that there are more available facilities now.

However, Vergeire said there are also some provinces with a higher number of reported cases.

She said the DOH is monitoring these areas and reminded the public not to be complacent despite the numbers going down. (PNA)