Davao City starts talks with AstraZeneca to buy COVID-19 vaccine

Hernel Tocmo

Posted at Jan 08 2021 11:06 PM | Updated as of Jan 09 2021 04:10 AM

DAVAO CITY (UPDATED)— Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Friday said they have began discussions and negotiations with multinational firm AstraZeneca together with the national government on Friday morning about the AZD-1222 vaccine against COVID-19.

The local government aims to immunize 1.2 million residents in Davao, which is 70 percent of the city's population to achieve herd immunity, the mayor said.

Responding to the question why AstraZeneca of all the vaccines, Duterte-Carpio said the company has first reached out to them and is ready to sign a contract with local government units.

However, the vaccines would not be immediately available, and that the company could not provide vaccines in bulk.

"In terms of timeline, nadungog nako ganina from them, third quarter of 2021. But ingon sila, dili sila maka-deliver og bulk. So ingon sila, that will be in tranches gyud, so batch by batch," she said.

(In terms of the timeline, I've heard from them a while ago that the vaccines are available by the third quarter of 2021. But they said, they cannot deliver it in bulk, and will distribute the vaccines in tranches.)

The city council passed during a special session on Thursday an ordinance allowing Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to initiate negotiations with multinational firm AstraZeneca for the possible procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The ordinance included allowing city government to sign a confidentiality agreement required by AstraZeneca before entering into negotiations.

"I think we're talking about probably trade secrets, formula that will be coming out on the course of the negotiations that AstraZeneca wants to be kept confidential in the event we will not push through with transacting with them regarding the vaccine that they have produced," said Councilor J. Melchor Quitain Jr., author of the ordinance.

The council has not yet discussed a specific budget for the vaccines, but councilor Danny Dayanghirang, chair of the committee on finance, assured that funds will be sufficient.

On Tuesday, the council also passed the COVID-19 Immunization Program Ordinance on first reading, which aims to prepare Davao City for the arrival of the vaccines against coronavirus and the system to conduct immunization of its citizens.

Councilor Joselle Villafuerte said the proposed ordinance also included the creation of a task force to focus on the safety of the vaccines and a committee to monitor the adverse effects once immunization begins.

They will also conduct a public committee hearing on January 11 to discuss the plan to inoculate, despite having no fixed arrival date of the vaccines yet.

The local government also wants to conduct a massive information campaign to ease the public's concern regarding the safety of the vaccines.

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