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Gov’t assures 100-percent COVID vaccination of adult population

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In photo: Access to coronavirus vaccines is given free to all its citizens and residents

By Alithea De Jesus

With the growing concern on the access to COVID19 vaccines for the adult, the government has targeted about US$1.3 billion in loan financing from multilateral lenders, which includes the Philippines’ contribution of US$84 million to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, to ensure COVID-19 vaccines for more than 70 million Filipinos or over 100 percent of the Philippines’ adult population, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Monday night.

Dominguez reported to President Duterte that the government is ensuring that funds for more than enough vaccine doses  are available to cover the 70 million adults who should be inoculated against the coronavirus, to allow for any slippage or delay in deliveries.

The loans negotiated with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will cover 106 million doses valued at around US$1.2 billion, while the COVAX Facility will deliver another 40 million doses of the vaccine, Dominguez said.

Itong total ng 146 or 148 million doses will vaccinate 76 million adults or more than 100 percent of the adult population,” Dominguez said during a televised meeting with President Duterte and select Cabinet officials aired Monday night.

Dominguez said the government is pursuing a three-pronged strategy on vaccine procurement, comprising: (1) the multilateral approach, which includes accessing financing from the ADB, WB and AIIB, and taking part in the COVAX Facility; (2) partnering with the private sector; and 3) working with the local government units (LGUs).

Under this strategy, the private sector and LGUs will pay for their respective vaccine purchases.

“These approaches are independent of each other but they are coordinated, para ho we will have enough doses to vaccinate 100 percent of the adult population,” he said.

Dominguez said that around 40 million of the Philippine population who are below 18 years of age cannot be vaccinated, leaving around 70 million adults covered by the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Together with the private sector, the Philippines is expected to get a total of about 178 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, good for 92 million individuals to ensure that 100 percent of the country’s adult population gets inoculated, he said.

“However, we have negotiated for 92 million (doses) kasi ho ang experience, nababasa natin sa dyaryo, ay may mga slippage, may mga delays sa delivery. There are delays in Europe, there are delays in the US (United States). So to be safe, we are negotiating more than what we need for 70 million (adult Filipinos),” Dominguez said.

Dominguez, however, pointed out that any possible delay in delivery would not be the fault of the government, because funds have been sufficiently provided for the procurement of the vaccines and early preparations have been made to negotiate for the Philippines’s share of the vaccine doses.

Ang delay ho ay sa manufacturing,” Dominguez said, referring to the pharmaceutical companies producing and supplying the various vaccine brands in the market.

The Philippines was able to sign up to the COVAX Facility by contributing its share in the pooled procurement mechanism for the COVID-19 vaccines.

This global initiative—led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance—is aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines against the highly contagious coronavirus.

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