• Melo Acuna

PRRD pins hopes on vaccine

President Duterte looks forward to COVID-19 vaccine by year-end

MANILA – In his television appearance at 9:00 A.M. today, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed optimism the country will have enough resources and systems to subject the poorest of the poor to the COVID-19 vaccine.

He said he does not have a roadmap to recovery because he and his cabinet are talking of the required budget to fund the vaccine.

“I could not have uttered a single sentence about roadmap to recovery kasi ang una talaga diyan ang medicine, (what is important is the medicine/vaccine)” President Duterte said in his meeting with top-ranking government officials held in Malacanang last night with the footage aired this morning.

President Duterte said everyone should wait until December as he expressed his high regard for China because Sinovac China is now on its Phase 3 along with Sinopharm Wuhan and Sinopharm Beijing.

He also referred to vaccines being prepared by Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna.

President Duterte also read a part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Wang Wenbin’s remarks last July 28 where China assured the Philippines of access to the Chinese vaccine.

He explained vaccines for possible use in the Philippines will have to pass through the Food and Drug Administration for approval. He said he will tap the military to take charge of the vaccination program.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said three pharmaceutical companies from China, one from Britain and one from the United States are on their third stage of vaccine development and may get the approval from their respective Food and Drug Administrations by October.

“And so before December, the Department of Health may choose which is the appropriate vaccine for the country. We now have a financing plan for the vaccine as the Department of health estimates the need for 20 million to have the vaccine. We may need 40 million vaccines at roughly US$10 per dose would mean US$400 million or P20 billion,” Secretary Dominguez said.

He explained they will use the Philippine International Trading Corporation under the Department of Trade and Industry to buy the vaccines where the country’s poorest of the poor will benefit from the free vaccine which the Philippine government will pay in two to three years.

The government-owned banks, LandBank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines will finance the undertaking.

“With US$10 per dose, it may cost P500 or roughly P1,000 and may include service and transportation may have a total cost of P1,200 per treatment,” the finance secretary explained. He said once the vaccine is available, he believes the economy can fully open and start normal lives.

While the Philippine economy begins to pick up, Secretary Dominguez said there are still concerns about transportation. He added there is no problem of liquidity as the Philippine peso is the strongest currency in Asia, “which is stronger than the Japanese yen. (Melo M. Acuña)

President Rodrigo Duterte in his nationwide address last night but was aired at 9:00 A.M. today. (Screen grab from RTVM/PCOO)

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