Philippines can fund free COVID-19 vaccines for 20M poor Filipinos: Dominguez

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2020 09:59 AM | Updated as of Jul 31 2020 11:39 AM

In this file photo Dr. Nita Patel, Director of Antibody discovery and Vaccine development, lifts a vial with a potential coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccine at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, AFP/File

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines has a financing plan to purchase at least 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines once it becomes available to be administered for free to the poorest 20 million Filipinos, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Friday.

The Department of Health can procure the approved vaccines with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corp and financed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, Dominguez said in a televised address.

The PITC, under the Department of Trade and Industry, is engaged in trading and bulk importation of essential goods for the government including medicines, among others.
Vaccines being developed across the world could be approved before December, he said. Purchased vaccines will be turned over to the DOH, he added.

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"May financing plan kami dyan. Ang estimate we will need to vaccinate for free for a minimum of 20 million people...The financing is available for this program," Dominguez said.

(We have a financing plan for that. Our estimate is that we will need to vaccinate for free for a minimum of 20 million people)

"Poorest of the poor muna (first), lowest 20 million of our country," he added.

If the 20 million poorest Filipinos need 2 shots each, estimated at $10 (P500) per dose, that would be $400 million or "roughly P20 billion," Dominguez said.

Landbank and the DBP are capable of financing that P20 billion, which is payable in 2 to 3 years, he said.

At P500 per dose, a vaccine shot inclusive of service and transport could cost about P1,200, he said.

Dominguez said the economy "is actually beginning to recover," after contracting in the first quarter. Third quarter numbers are expected to be released on Aug. 6.

"It’s already picking up now And we’re going to be seeing a pickup in business activity as we go on," he said.

The economy is "not short on money," the Peso is the "strongest in Asia" and inflation is also within target, he said.