Philippines ready to spend up to P73-B on COVID-19 vaccine procurement: Budget chief

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2020 12:37 PM | Updated as of Dec 05 2020 12:51 PM

Philippines ready to spend up to P73-B on COVID-19 vaccine procurement: Budget chief 1
Small bottles labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File


MANILA - The government is ready to spend as much as P73 billion for the procurement of coronavirus vaccines to achieve "herd immunity", the country's budget chief said. 

In a public press briefing Saturday, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado said the country currently has P10 billion in standby funds for vaccine procurement under Bayanihan 2, while there is a P2.5 billion initial budget dedicated to vaccine procurement under the proposed national budget for 2021. 

The P73 billion budget will be enough to vaccinate around 60 million Filipinos, Avisado said. 

"Sa huling report ni [Finance chief] Sonny Dominguez in the last meeting namin ay sinabi niya na nakahanda na ang ating pamahalaan na gumastos ng hanggang P73 billion para nang sa ganoon ay ma-vaccinate natin ang 60 milllion Filipinos or more para ma-attain ang herd immunity," Avisado said. 

(The report from Finance chief Sonny Dominguez during our last meeting, he said the government's ready to spend up to P73 billion to vaccinate more or less 60 million Filipinos, to attain herd immunity.) 

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The Food and Drug Administration said that by January, it will have cleared a COVID-19 vaccine candidate for emergency use. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier issued an order allowing FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. 

Britain earlier approved BioNTech-Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, while China and Russia earlier allowed the emergency use of their own vaccines. 

A lawmaker earlier said at least P140 billion was needed to obtain herd immunity. 

But Avisado assured that the government is finding other ways to fund the vaccine procurement, such as securing loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.