The planned issuance of a vaccine passport for people who have been inoculated against the coronavirus could be the key to a return to normal life, Malacañang said Monday.
As the government ramps up the acquisition of coronavirus vaccines from foreign suppliers, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the vaccine passports would help facilitate safe mobility among those who have received the shot.
“DOH (Department of Health) po ang magi-isyu niyan (The DOH will issue the vaccine passports),” Roque said over “Unang Hirit” program on GMA-7 Monday.
“At importante po iyong passport na iyan kasi iyan ang magiging susi doon sa ating tinatawag na mobility, para tayo makaikot, makabiyahe, makapag-resume ng ating normal na buhay bago tumama ang pandemic (The passport is important because that will serve as the key to our mobility so we can go around, travel, return to our normal life before the pandemic hit),” he added.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had earlier announced the government’s planned establishment of a data registry for all vaccine recipients. A QR code will be issued to show information about the vaccinated person.
She said the vaccine passports, which will be proof that a person has taken the shot, would likely be part of the protocol for border control of countries around the globe.
The government has secured supplies of millions of coronavirus vaccines with the initial shipment expected to arrive next month. The first COVID vaccine doses to be shipped will come from American drugmaker Pfizer and China’s Sinovac.
Of the pending applications, local drug regulators have so far approved the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccines in the country.
The Palace has repeatedly defended the government’s purchase of the Chinese-made vaccines in the wake of criticisms about its supposed high cost and poor efficacy rate.
Roque insisted that the Sinovac vaccines cost around P650 similar to the price estimated in Indonesia, contrary to reports about it being expensive.
The government could not yet disclose the exact amount of the vaccines due to the confidentiality clause until the supply agreement is signed, he added.
Asked if the government could still cancel the Sinovac order, Roque said: “Anything is possible.”
He maintained though that President Duterte wants to save as many people as possible with the help of the vaccines especially in the face of the new coronavirus variant.
He said the immunization drive using Sinovac vaccines will push through if it gets an approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Ang dahilan po para hindi siya matuloy ay kung hindi siya bibigyan ng approval ng FDA (The only reason it will not push through is if it does not get the approval from FDA),” he said.
“Kapag binigyan ng approval ng FDA, ang Presidente na ang nagsabi, tabla-tabla po iyan, pare-pareho iyan in terms if iyong safety at saka iyong pagiging epektibo (Once it secures FDA approval, the President has said the vaccines are on equal footing. They are the same in terms of safety and efficacy),” he said.