Even President Duterte’s patience is wearing thin over the reported delay in the delivery of coronavirus vaccines to the country.
The President is hoping the process will move faster so the vaccines will be delivered to the country as soon as possible, Malacañang bared Friday as the country’s vaccine orders have been bogged down by regulatory and logistical issues.
“Tatapatin ko kayo. Si Presidente ang nagsalita na. Siya mismo naiinip na (I’ll be frank with you. The President has spoken that he himself is getting impatient),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said over state television Friday, Feb. 19.
“Kinakailangan dumating na ang mga bakuna. Kaya naman siguro dahil nagsalita na ng ganyan ang Presidnete eh gagalaw na ng mabilis ang lahat (The vaccines should arrive by now so perhaps since the President has spoken, everyone will move quickly),” he said.
The Palace earlier announced the delivery of Chinese-made vaccines might be delayed if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would not issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) anytime soon. Around 600,000 Sinovac vaccines donated by China are supposed to arrive in the country this Feb. 23.
“Nakasaad sa deed of donation kumbaga na kinakailangan mayroon na tayong EUA bago pa man siya dumating ng 23. So kung maantala ‘yung pag-i-issue ng EUA ng FDA para sa Sinovac baka hindi makarating po yung Sinovac sa 23 (It is stated in the deed of donation that we should EUA before the vaccines will be delivered on the 23rd. So if the FDA issuance of EUA for Sinovac will be delayed, the Sinovac may not arrive on the 23rd),” Roque said.
The initial Pfizer vaccine shots under the global COVAX facility were also expected to be delivered to the country in mid-February, but this was disrupted by pending issues related to the requirement of indemnity arrangement and cold storage facilities.
The global vaccine acquisition scheme has given notice about the potential delay of the supply delivery, the Palace earlier said.
Roque explained that the “no fault” indemnification had been sought since the coronavirus vaccines would be used under an emergency basis with side effects not yet certain.
He added that Pfizer wanted an indemnity clause in the supply arrangement apparently to avoid a repeat of the Dengvaxia controversy where the drug manufacturer was dragged into a legal mess over the reported deaths linked to the dengue vaccine.
To facilitate the vaccine delivery, he said the President has already certified as urgent the proposed indemnity fund for people who might suffer adverse side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Na-certify na ito as urgent ng presidente kaya inaasahan nating magiging batas ito (The bill has been certified as urgent by the President so we hope it will become a law soon),” he said.
On the AstraZeneca vaccines under COVAX facility, Roque admitted that delivery would depend on the supply and logistical concerns.
“Dahil nga po limitado ang supply pati po ang Astrazeneca na dapat ide-deliver dapat ng Covax facility, ngayon po ay bago ang matapos ang buwan ng Pebrero darating ‘no at ito rin po ay subject to logistical challenges dahil napakadaming nga pong kumukuha ng Astrazeneca (Because of the limited supply of AstraZeneca that will be delivered by COVAX facility, it will arrive before the end of February but subject to logistical challenges because there are many getting AstraZeneca),” he said.
The government has secured coronavirus vaccines from various suppliers, but none of the supplies has been delivered yet. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the country remained “on track” on the procurement of the vaccines.
The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year, starting with the country’s’ frontline health workers, seniors, poor and vulnerable citizens, as well as uniformed personnel and other essential workforce.