DAVAO CITY – The local government of Davao will receive the initial doses of the Pfizer-BionTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines from the national government late next month,
This was disclosed by Davao City Focal Person on COVID-19 Dr. Ashley Lopez who said local authorities were already preparing the logistical support, particularly the ultra-cold storage facilities for the vaccines that would be coming from the US-based drug maker.
However, he could not disclose the number of doses that will be allocated for Davao City, saying that this will all be up to the national government.
But he assured that the first batch of Pfizer vaccines will be sufficient to inoculate the frontline health workers of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) who, along with health professionals from private hospitals, will be high up in the priority list of the government.
He said that the vaccines will not be made available to the public. The national government will give priority to frontline health workers, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, remaining indigent population, and uniformed personnel.
“We will prioritize health professionals of the SPMC because that’s the center of our isolation. There are a lot of cases there so we need to protect the health professionals. They will be the ones to first benefit from the vaccines,” he added.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the application for emergency use authorization of Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccine last January 14. Phase 3 clinical trials showed that it had an efficacy rate of 95 percent.
Lopez said Davao City has been identified as a priority area of the national government for its vaccination program because it was among the areas outside the National Capital Region with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
He added local authorities were looking for available storage facilities in the city that can meet the requirement of Pfizer-BionTech vaccines and vaccines developed by other manufacturers.
The city government earlier signed an agreement with Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals (Philippines), Inc. for the purchase of its vaccines. AstraZeneca committed to deliver initial doses of AZD1222, the vaccine jointly developed by the British firm with Oxford University, to the city by the third quarter of this year.
“Last weekend, we just had our first coordinators’ meeting at the City Health Office. We did a micro planning in preparation for the possible COVID-19 immunization. We are going to have follow-up meetings,” Lopez said.
He said the local government was awaiting specific guidelines from the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and Department of Health (DOH) to address the issues concerning the upcoming COVID-19 immunization program.
For the nationwide rollout, Lopez said the Dabawenyos will not be forced to receive COVID-19 vaccines but added that those who are willing to get it must sign a consent form.
Lopez said the purpose COVID-19 vaccine was “not entirely to cure the infection.” He said vaccines only help lessen the severity of complications from infection.
“It’s not 100 percent effective but it’s better to weigh the harms versus the benefits. It outweighs harmful effects. There are more benefits in getting COVID-19 vaccines,” he said,
He said the local government hopes to achieve “herd immunity” to put an end to the pandemic. The city government is eyeing to vaccinate around 1.2 million people to establish herd immunity.
As of January 20, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported 158 new cases, bringing the total cases to 15,459, with 2,517 active, 12,322 recoveries, and 620 deaths in the region.
Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 10,597 cases, with 1,465 active, 8,641 recoveries, and 491 deaths.
Davao de Oro reported 769 cases, Davao del Norte with 2,112, Davao del Sur with 1,125, Davao Occidental with 168, and Davao Oriental with 688.