No COVID-19 vaccine supply yet? It’s now up to Congress – Galvez

Published February 16, 2021, 9:28 AM

by Raymund Antonio

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday night said both houses of Congress should certify as urgent measures that will pave the way for the procurement of the coronavirus vaccines at the national and local levels. 

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / MANILA BULLETIN)

In the President Duterte’s pre-recorded briefing, Galvez cited the need for Congress and Senate to certify as urgent the indemnification measure, a requirement by many western producers of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the bill that will allow local government units to make advance payments for their own supply of the vaccines. 

Although the country has already complied with the documentation on COVAX vaccines, Galvez said that “the ball is with WHO (World Health Organization) and Congress.”

“Kung magkasundo na po sa indemnification agreement, wala na po tayong hadlang kasi mayroon na po tayong preparation. Okay na po ang preparation natin. May EUA na po tayo sa Pfizer for the COVAX ano po, COVAX donation, at nakapag-comply na rin po tayo sa mga documentation po na hinihingi po ng WHO at saka Gavi (If they will agree with the indemnification agreement, we won’t have any hurdle because we have preparation. We’re okay with our preparation. We have an EUA (emergency use authorization) for Pfizer for the COVAX facility, COVAX donation, and also complied with the documentation the WHO and Gavi are asking),” he said.

COVAX and Gavi are two facilities that ensure lower-income economies can have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. 

Galvez said they already talked with Senate President Tito Sotto and Senator Christoper “Bong” Go about the prioritization of the indemnification clause and the bill that will allow local government units to make advance market commitment for the purchase of the vaccines. 

“Kaya po mayroon po kaming communication, Mr. President, na this bill should be ano certified as urgent. Iyon po ang recommendation po namin sa last na magkaroon po ng ano ng tinatawag nating certification of urgent itong dalawang bill po na ginagawa po ng Senado at saka ng Kongreso po ngayon (That’s why we have a communication, Mr. President, that this bill should be certified as urgent. That’s our recommendation that we should have what is called certification of urgent of these two bills in the Senate and Congress now),” he said.

The vaccine czar had previously said the Pfizer vaccine could have been delivered to the country last Friday if only the Philippines had its own indemnification law.

The government is still processing some documents with the assistance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the COVAX facility.

Only China-made Sinovac is scheduled to arrive this month on February 23, and jumpstart the country’s vaccination program.