PH offers to pay more as a ‘technique’ to get COVID vaccine early

Published February 25, 2021, 10:42 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

The failure to secure the vaccines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) until now has forced the Philippine government to offer to buy the doses for a higher price just to ensure early delivery, a top official said.

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

Retired military chief of staff Carlito Galvez, vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19), said they are now negotiating with vaccine manufacturers for the delivery of the first batch of the vaccines by next month or the second quarter of this year.

“This is the technique that we are doing, we are offsetting their price. We are negotiating to pay a little to ensure the early delivery,” Galvez told President Duterte in Filipino during a briefing.

The negotiations for the procurement of vaccine for the Philippines was early but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin later disclosed that ‘somebody dropped the ball’ which resulted in the failure to secure the vaccine. Health Secretary Francisco Duque, however, denied that he ‘dropped the ball’.

Galvez then took the lead in securing the vaccine and the optimism went to the point that government officials declared that the vaccination roll-out would be on February 15. Dry-runs were conducted involving various government agencies that include transportation of the vaccines and even the vaccination proper.

But still, no vaccines arrived amid the vaccination roll-out of some countries that include Myanmar, Bangladesh and even conflict-torn Afghanistan.

It was later found out that the negotiations were bungled anew over failure to produce an indemnification agreement which manufacturers have been reportedly asking even from other countries.

Vaccination roll-out for the Philippines is expected to begin once China’s donation for 600,000 doses of the controversial Sinovac arrives. Galvez said the China donation is set to arrive next month.

Galvez explained that delay and the low supply of doses for the first two quarters of this year was caused by the high global demand for COVID-19 vaccines.

But he said some 24 million doses of vaccines are expected to arrive in the country by second quarter, including the ones ordered by the Philippine government from Pfizer and Astrazenica.

“The main volume of the procurement will arrive in the third and fourth quarter (2021) so the major vaccination roll-out really will be coming from the third and fourth quarter,” said Galvez.