PH can buy as many COVID vaccines as required, Duterte assures

Published June 23, 2021, 9:33 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has ample reserved funds to secure additional coronavirus vaccines needed by Filipinos, President Duterte said recently amid efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods in the country.

Manila residents wait for their turn to get their first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination site in Tondo, Manila on June 20, 2012. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

According to the President, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III reported there are sufficient funds to cover as many coronavirus shots required to inoculate the people in the country.

“In the last meeting, Carlos Dominguez III, the Secretary of Finance, said clearly that we have the money already reserved for the vaccines and it’s there,” Duterte said during a televised address Monday, June 21.

“So we can buy as much as many vaccines as required maski na sumobra. Mas mabuti ‘yang sumobra kaysa magkulang (even if there’s an excess. It’s better to have a surplus than a shortage),” he added.

READ: Gov’t has reserves to cover P20-B vaccine purchase for Filipino teens — Dominguez

With the funds guaranteed, Duterte expressed hope that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. could secure the supply and swiftly distribute them to the people especially in the provinces.

“We pray that Secretary Galvez will be guided by the Lord so that he can really go where the vaccines are,” he said.

As more vaccines are expected to be delivered to country, Duterte also said there was no reason to delay the vaccine distribution. He pressed for a “faster” vaccine rollout after learning about the case surge reported in some areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

“I hope that you’d move faster,” Duterte told the government task force in charge of addressing the pandemic. “Well, as long as we have the supply in steady manner, there is no reason why we should also dilly-dally in the distribution of the vaccines in the provinces,” he added.

Dominguez earlier said the country would need P20 billion to cover the vaccine purchase for 15 million Filipino teenagers. He assured the public that the government has “enough reserves” to cover such amount.

The government earlier set aside P85 billion for the procurement of 140 million doses of vaccines for 70 million adult Filipinos. The funds will be sourced from the funds of Department of Health under the 2021 national budget, overseas development assistance (ODA) financing, and contingent funds.

The country has so far obtained 14.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, including the recent 1.5 million shipment of Sinovac shots. Additional 4 million COVID-19 shots are expected to arrive this month.

Over 2 million Filipinos, mostly health workers, seniors, and people with comorbidity, have so far been fully vaccinated in the country.

The government aims to inoculate an initial 9.7 million people in National Capital Region to attain population protection by late November. The herd immunity target is 58 million to 70 million Filipinos before the end of the year.