Kiko cites difference in vaccine deliverables

Sen. Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan sought to clarify the deliverables in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program after expressing alarm over the inconsistencies between the Department of Health (DoH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on the vaccine roll-out.

Senator Francis Pangilinan
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Bakit dalawa ang vision kung iisa lang ang layunin? Sa DoH-specific slide, access to COVID immunization services is 60 to 70 percent of eligible Filipinos by the end of 2022. Pero ang IATF naman ay 50 to 70 million Filipinos by 2021. Hindi ito simpleng difference, malaking difference po ‘yan. Iyong isa 2022, ‘yung isa 2021,” Pangilinan said at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on the country’s COVID vaccination program.

“Why are there two visions when there is only one objective? Based on the DoH-specific slide, access to COVID immunization services is 60 to 70 percent of eligible Filipinos by the end of 2022. But the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) said there would be 50 to 70 Filipinos by the end of 2021. This is not a simple difference. It is a big difference. One is 2022 while the other is 2021)

Pangilinan, the principal proponent of convening the Senate Committee of the Whole to discuss the government’s vaccination program, pointed out the inconsistent statements of the DoH and the IATF on the topic in today’s COW public hearing.

“Sinasabi ng IATF, 128 million doses will be made available by 2021. Ang sinasabi naman ng DoH, it depends on the supply. So ano ang talagang deliverables? Is it 128 million doses by 2021, or 128 million doses by 2021 unless there is a problem with supply? Kasi kinakailangan nating malaman. Ano ba talaga ang deliverables?” he said.

(IATF says there will be 128 million doses available by 2021. The DoH, on the other hand, said it depends on supply. So what is the real deliverables? Is it 128 million doses by 2021, or 128 million doses unless there is a problem of supply? We really need to know what is deliverable)

According to COVID-19 Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine volumes are expected in the third and fourth quarter of 2021, citing delay in development that has influenced the delay on vaccine production.

“We don’t want to give our people ‘yung false expectations na malaki (that big). Kaya po ang ginagawa po ng DoH na worst-case scenario at best case scenario. Best-case scenario is we can inoculate 148 million. But if there is a production problem, magkakaroon po tayo ng shortfall, mapupunta po tayo ng 2021, 2022,” Galvez said (when we will have shortfalls, we will go to 2021, 2022).

Meanwhile, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines Country Representative, said that through the COVAX program, at least 20 percent of the population is targeted to be inoculated either within the first or second quarter of this year.

While the quantities are not yet clear, Abeyasinghe said he hopes that it would be adequate to protect at least the frontline health workers.

“Obviously, higher efficacy and lower cost should be one of the bases (for the procurement of the vaccines). Why will we pay for a more expensive vaccine that has lower efficacy?” Pangilinan said.

In his opening statement during the public inquiry, Pangilinan stressed the importance of transparency in the COVID vaccination program.

“It couldn’t be denied that this can arguably be considered the most important endeavor we face as a nation since World War II... Only with the support and participation of the public and all stakeholders can we ensure success. Tungkulin natin bilang lingkod-bayan ang maayos, mabilis, at bukás na pagpapatupad ng pambansang pagbabakuna kontra COVID,” he said. (It is our duty as public servants that the national program against COVID-19 is orderly and efficient)

“Hindi tayo maaring magkamali. Failure is not an option,” he said.
(We must not commit mistakes)