P2.4-B set aside by DOH for COVID-19 vaccine procurement in 2021

The Department of Health (DOH) has initially set aside P2.4 billion for the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) under its proposed budget for 2021. 

“Nag-prepare na kami ng budget and part of that budget in 2021--- nag allocate na kami ng P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines ,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

“But of course pag lumabas na ang presyo niyan and how much we can be able to procure, madadagdagan pa naman iyan. But that is the initial na isinet aside na natin for next year's budget ,” she added. 

Vergeire said that the DOH is closely coordinating with other government agencies for the purchase of vaccines once available. 

“We are still working with other government agencies para maiayos natin ito, especially DOST (Department of Science and Technology), and of course kasama na dyan ang DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) kasi sila yung nakikipag usap when it comes to international transactions, and the DOF (Department of Finance) ,” she said. 

The Chinese government recently vowed that the Philippines is one of its priority recipients once it develops a COVID-19 vaccine. President Duterte also said that the government is also in talks with Russia for a supply of its potential vaccine. 


In a related development, Vergeire said that clinical trials of the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan will start on Monday, August 17. 

“We start on August 17.  One hundred patients ang ating ire-recruit . Drugs are here, protocols have been approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and Ethics Board,” said Vegeire. 

The patients that will be allowed to participate must be 18 to 74 years old and have no pre-existing condition such as heart and kidney ailments. Participants must also agree to use contraceptives because of the “teratogenic” effects of Avigan. 

The DOH earlier announced the venue of the clinical trials: Sta. Ana Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and the Quirino Memorial Medical Center. 

Other countries that are conducting study for Avigan include China, Italy, Russia, and the United States of America.