When will DOH begin purchase of new generation Covid jabs? Vergeire answers

The Department of Health (DOH) expects to begin purchase of new generation Covid-19 vaccines early next year.

(Mark Balmores/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

This was confirmed by DOH Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during the House Committee on Appropriations' deliberation on the agency’s proposed P195.63-billion budget under the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

Before this, independent minority solon, Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman inquired about when the DOH would be able to roll out the upgraded vaccines.

"When is the Philippines going to start administering the Covid-19 boosters for the newer variants of the disease?" he asked.

"We are now in the process of discussions with the manufacturers of these new generation vaccines," Vergeire said.

"These new generation vaccines, based on their studies, would be targeting or can cover both the original strain of the Covid-19 virus and Omicron variant," she said, adding that the DOH was talking to at least two manufacturers.

"So with these two manufacturers which already have finished their studies and are getting their registration or approval in the US (United States), nakipag-usap na po tayo....and inaayos lang po yung term sheets (we've already talked to them...the term sheets are being prepared)," she said.

"And doon naman sa isang (for this one) manufacturer, we still have this discussions over the non-disclosure agreement. So we are estimating, hopefully, we can be able to proceed with these transactions by first quarter of next year, we'll be able to procure these new generation vaccines," Vergeire further said.

Before this, the DOH official acknowledged to Lagman and the rest of the solons the scientific observance of the waning effects pf the original Covid-19 vaccines.

"There have been already that the immunity has been affected because of the subvariant Omicron. So the immunity that we had for our first two doses of our vaccines was affected and therefore it was, based on the evidence, the immunity is already waning," Vergeire said.

"And based on the assumptions of our experts right now that, by this time toward the end of the year, because progressive po yung mga nababakunahan for ano, pag hindi pa po nag-receive ng first booster yun pong ating eligible population (If our eligible population has yet to receive their first booster), then immunity of the population will wane. Therefore there will be an increase in the admission in our hospitals," she said.