61 Philippine cities to spend over P10 billion for COVID-19 vaccines

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2021 11:27 PM

A doctor 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 - At least 61 cities in the Philippines have committed over P10 billion to secure their own supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, as local governments move to vaccinate residents against the virus.

The head of the League of Cities reported Monday that as early last December, the league created a committee that will guide local government units (LGUs) in availing COVID-19 vaccines.

“We should be able to talk to all these prospective pharmaceutical firms so that we would be able to get all the specifications, and all the details particularly the efficacy of the vaccines,” LCP National President and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said.

“When we started, the first that was available was AstraZeneca, but this does not mean that it will be exclusive to them. There are about eight of these different products, and we are supposed to talk to each one of them and be able to relay all these information to city mayors so they can be properly guided which vaccine they prefer,” he continued.

At least a dozen cities have ordered vaccines from the British-Swedish drugmaker after it submitted to the Philippine government its application for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Bacolod City was among them, signing an agreement with AstraZeneca to procure COVID-19 vaccines worth P300 million.

Though details of the deal are covered by a non-disclosure agreement, Leonardia said the city expects to roll-out the vaccine by the third quarter of the year. 

The city initially targets to inoculate some 400,000 residents against the virus, he added.

“We have savings. Fortunately for us, we're ready with that money. Of course where we are concerned, we believe it is our commitment, it is our policy to see to it when the health and lives of our people are concerned, the battlecry is ‘go for broke.’ So it might mean scraping the bottom of our resources,” the mayor said.

Leonardia said that the League of Cities is set to have a special general assembly Tuesday afternoon with vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez and Food and Drug Administration director-general Usec. Eric Domingo to discuss the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines with the national government.

“Our target is to see to it that the city mayors are guided,” he said.

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