Duterte signs COVID-19 vaccine indemnification law

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2021 08:04 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2021 09:04 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on Feb. 1, 2021. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo/File 

MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure that sets up an indemnification fund to compensate those who would suffer adverse effects from COVID-19 shots, the first batch of which is set to arrive this weekend, Malacañang said Friday.

Duterte signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, his spokesman Harry Roque said in a text message. 

The law will establish a P500-million COVID-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund that state medical insurer PhilHealth will manage, lawmakers earlier said.

Vaccine manufacturers want protection from future product liability claims before they deliver the shots, authorities said.

The lack of an indemnity deal had delayed the arrival of 117,000 Pfizer doses from COVID-19 vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility, initially expected in mid-February. 

In a separate statement, Roque said the signing of the measure would fast-track the country's procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. 

"It covers the creation of an indemnity fund to cover compensation for those who would experience serious adverse effects to the vaccine," the official said. 

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The Philippines is negotiating supply agreements with seven manufacturers for 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, so it can inoculate 70 million adults, or two-thirds of its more than 108 million population.

The government expects the bulk of the country's COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the third and the fourth quarters of 2021.