Dominguez details COVID-19 vaccines fund

Published January 14, 2021, 4:35 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Department of Finance (DOF) assured that the government has sufficiently funds to procure enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various sources in line with its target to inoculate around half of the population.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said yesterday that the DOF has “in place” P75 billion of the P82.5 billion budget required to provide vaccines to at least 50 million Filipinos. 

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III

Of the P82.5 billion, P2.5 billion is already under the 2021 budget of the Department of Health (DOH), while P10 billion will come from the funds allocated for the COVID-19 vaccination program under the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act.

Dominguez said the remaining P70 billion will be sourced from  loans provided by multilateral lenders,  the Philippines’ bilateral partnersand/or the domestic market.

The DOF currently is processing around P62.5 billion, or roughly $1.3 billion, through loans with multilateral banks to procure COVID-19 vaccines for adult Filipinos.

These multilateral institutions include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

According to Dominguez, the government is targeting to inoculate about 50 million to 70 million adult Filipinos aged 18 years old and above. 

“We have 110 million Filipinos. Of the 110 million, around 40 million are below the ages of 18 and it is not recommended that teenagers and below get the vaccine. So, you knock off 40 million out of 110 million. That leaves you 70 million Filipinos potentially to vaccinate,” he said.

The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use so far are only allowed for adults aged 18 years old and above, as there are no clinical trials yet involving children.

Dominguez said initial computations place the conservative cost per person to be vaccinated at P1,300, which already includes the required doses, syringe, storage, equipment, information campaign, monitoring  and other support services. 

At P1,300 per person, the government would be able to inoculate roughly 57 million to 60 million Filipinos out of the 70 million that need to be vaccinated, Dominguez said. 

“Now, that leaves you 13 million people. We expect the 13 million to be covered by the LGUs (local government units), the private sector, and of course,  there are the recusants—the guys who don’t believe in vaccination,” Dominguez said.

“So, basically, we are going to be covered and I think we will be able easily now,  with the resources that we have raised,  to vaccinate 60 million Filipinos,” he added. 

Earlier, Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven said the DOF has begun the process of negotiating with the WB and ADB at least $800 million in funds for the COVID-19 vaccination program through a project loan, with the DOH as implementing agency.

The financing support from the ADB and the WB carries low interest rates, with an average maturity period of at least 1o years, Joven said.