Palace: All private firms now allowed to procure COVID-19 vaccines

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2021 05:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2021 09:52 PM

Palace: All private firms now allowed to procure COVID-19 vaccines 1
A health worker prepares a syringe with the Sinovac Biotech's Coronavac vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila, March 2, 2021. Lisa Marie David, Reuters/File

MANILA — All private firms can now procure COVID-19 vaccines, Malacañang said on Monday, despite limitations outlined by the World Health Organization.

"Puwede na pong bumili ng bakuna ang lahat ng pribadong kumpanya, kasama ang cigarette companies," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

(All private companies, including cigarette companies, can now buy vaccines.) 

This is the result of the amendment on the implementing rules and regulations of the COVID-19 vaccination law, he said in a press briefing.

However, allowing the vaccine procurement of companies involved with tobacco, alcohol, milk and soda "could be used [in] advocacy for those products," said WHO Representative to the Philippines, Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe.

The Philippines signed a framework for tobacco control that set limitations "on providing opportunities for those industries to be providing health-related services or using health-related services for marketing advocacy," he said in a press briefing. 

Private firms must buy COVID-19 shots through a tripartite deal with the national government because coronavirus vaccines are not yet commercially available and are only cleared for emergency use, Roque said. 
It remains uncertain whether or not the companies should donate to the government half of the vaccines they would procure. 

While there is no provision for this in the law, the tripartite deal requires firms to give the government half of procured vaccines, said Roque. 

"Sa tingin ko po, kung ang gagamitin pong dokumento ay iyong tripartite agreement, meron pa ring donasyon sa gobyerno," he said. 

"But I could be wrong kasi puwedeng amyendahan na 'yong tripartite agreement, iyong model form, as a result of the passage of the law. Abangan na lang natin." 
(I think, if the document is used, there will still be a donation to the government. But I could be wrong because the tripartite agreement might be amended, the model form, as a result of the passage of the law. Let's just wait.)

Some local governments and private firms earlier signed a supply deal with national authorities for 17 million doses of of Britain's AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 
The government has received delivery of 600,000 China-donated COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, and 525,600 AstraZeneca doses through the WHO-led COVAX Facility. 

The Philippines recorded 8,019 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday, the highest single-day increase in the Southeast Asian nation.

Total recorded cases in the Philippines had risen to 671,792 while confirmed deaths had reached 12,972, among the highest in Asia.

— With a report from Reuters 

Video courtesy of PTV