Not true: Galvez denies claims that NTF ‘blocking’ LGUs, private sector from buying COVID-19 vaccines

Published March 23, 2021, 3:35 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has refuted allegations that the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 has been blocking attempts by local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to buy coronavirus disease vaccines.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Galvez, vaccine czar and chief implementer of the NTF Against COVID-19, said the LGUs and the private sector can enter into a tripartite agreement with the national government for the procurement of COVID-19 jabs.

“Sa ngayon, mayroon na pong 40 million na po na more or less na nabibili ang LGU at ang ano po… ang ating ano… ang ating private sector. So ‘yong balita po na pinipigilan po natin ‘yon, hindi po tama po ‘yon (Right now, we already have around 40 million doses procured by the LGU and private sector. So the news that we are blocking them is not correct),” he told President Duterte during the latter’s weekly Cabinet meeting.

He said that in November 2020, a tripartite agreement was sealed with the British-Swede drugmaker AstraZeneca for the procurement of 17 million vaccines — 11 million will go to the LGUs while six million will go to the private sector.

Meanwhile, a separate tripartite deal was signed last March 18 with American vaccine manufacturer Moderna for 20 million vaccines — 13 million for the government and seven million for the private sector.

The government is also eyeing a negotiation with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Serum Institute of India for the procurement of Sputnik V and Novavax vaccines, respectively — 10 million for LGUs and five million for the private sector.

Galvez’ remarks came after Senator Imee Marcos claimed that the NTF Against COVID-19 and the Department of Health (DOH) drafted an administrative order that would supposedly prevent private companies, including liquor, tobacco and infant milk manufacturers, from buying anti-COVID-19 vaccines.

Marcos said that the order is now ready for presentation to Duterte.

While Galvez rejected Marcos’ claims, he admitted that the NTF prevented a private organization from attempting to sell anti-COVID-19 vaccines for its members for P2,000.

“Ang policy natin, Mayor, is that maiiwasan po natin ‘yong nangyari po sa isang ano sa isang organization na nagbebenta po sila ng ano ng isang vaccine na 2,000, which is hindi po authorize po ‘yon. Kahit na po si FDA [Food and Drug Administration], i-flinag (flag) po ‘yong organization na ‘yon dahil kasi hindi pa po puwedeng magkaroon ng commercialization (Our policy, Mayor, is meant to prevent a repeat of the unauthorized selling of a vaccine by a private organization for P2,000. Even the FDA flagged this organization because there is no commercialization [of vaccines] yet),” he explained.

Galvez did not identify the private organization involved in the unauthorized selling of vaccines.

But last week, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) was reported to have offered CoronaVac vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech to the members of the federation and their family for P2,000. The FFCCCII already denied the allegation.

“Sana maintindihan po ng ating mga mamamayan na dahil pandemic po ngayon na kailangan po talaga na kasama po ang gobyerno sa negosasyon with the private sector at saka LGU po (I hope the public understands that because of the pandemic, the government must be involved in the negotiation of the private sector and LGUs),” Galvez said.