Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion voiced his support to the decision of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to no longer extend the country’s state of public health emergency and instead urged the government to focus on the procurement of bivalent Covid-19 vaccines and making them available for sale to the population.
The state of public health emergency lapsed on Dec. 31, 2022 after Marcos, who extended it until the year’s end in Sept. 2022, said the country is “not in a state of calamity anymore, technically speaking.”
Concepcion, who led the private sector’s efforts to procure Covid-19 vaccines in the height of the pandemic, backed the Chief Executive’s decision.
“We should not be in an emergency phase anymore,” he said in a statement on Thursday, Feb. 2.
“The world has moved on and so should we. I fully support the President’s direction towards managing our health,” he added.
Concepcion shared that after traveling to Europe and other Asian countries recently, people are “back (to) normal like nothing happened.”
The focus of the government should instead shift to making the vaccines, specifically the bivalent vaccines, available to a larger segment of the population.
Lifting the state of public health emergency means that Covid-19 vaccines will no longer have the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that makes it possible for the government to buy the vaccines.
Pharmaceutical companies should start applying for a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make the vaccines readily available to the public, Concepcion said.
“If the pharma companies don’t apply for the CPRs, the Philippines may not be able to bring these vaccines here,” he added.
“The government should continue supporting the vulnerable, but it should also make the vaccines available to people who would like to take them on a voluntary basis.”
“Let’s get the public to pay for the bivalent and let’s allow this to be voluntary and not mandatory. Let people choose how they want to manage their health,” he stressed, adding that Covid-19 vaccines should be “readily available” like the flu vaccines.
Meanwhile, Concepcion also issued a reminder for the country’s need to improve its health care system following the weaknesses exposed during the pandemic.
“It’s time we improve our health care system, not just for Covid,” he said.
Concepcion and some of the country’s leading health and policy experts earlier pointed out how the lack of urgency and unclear delineation of roles within the country’s public health system hampered the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The declaration of state of public health emergency paves the way for the continued implementation of measures to fight the pandemic, as well as for the quicker release of funds to address the impact of the pandemic.