MANILA - The Philippines' vaccine czar on Monday said local government units and the private sector should only purchase COVID-19 vaccines through a tripartite agreement with the national government.
National COVID-19 Task Force chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said that as the pandemic rages on, vaccines can't be commercialized and that they're still under emergency use authorization.
"Meaning 'yung adverse effect atsaka indemnification at talagang sa gobyerno po ang mananagot po," Galvez Jr. said in an aired public briefing.
(Meaning any adverse effect and indemnification during the COVID-19 vaccination rollout will be pinned on government.)
"Ang maganda din po dito sa tripartite agreement ay makaka-create po tayo ng malaking volume at napababa po natin 'yung presyo. Ito po ay advantage ng private sector atsaka ng LGU dahil kasi po meron na po tayong nangyari na tatlong company, because of the big volume that we had, naibaba po natin nang napakababa po," he said.
(The good thing about the tripartite agreement is we can create a large volume of COVID-19 vaccines and we can lower their price. This is the advantage of the private sector and the LGUs because there was an instance three companies made a purchase, and because of the big volume we had, we were able to lower the price.)
Reports earlier surfaced that national government was deterring LGUs and private sector from buying their own doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. last week said a group of Filipino-Chinese businessmen was “being blocked” from procuring jabs.
Galvez denied this.
"Hindi po tama 'yun kasi nung last November, nagkaroon po tayo ng pirmahan ng 17 million [doses] sa AstraZeneca, 11 million sa LGU at 6 million sa private sector. And then … nagkaroon po kami ng pirmahan sa Moderna na 13 million po ang government, 7 million po sa private sector," he said, referring to signed deals with UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca-Oxford and US-based Moderna.
(That's not right because last November we signed a deal for 17 milion doses with AstraZeneca; 11 million will go to LGUs while 6 million will go to the private sector. And then we also signed with Moderna for 20 million doses, 13 of which will go to government while the remaining 7 will go to the private sector.)
Galvez emphasized the tripartite agreement is a much-needed requirement after an organization was caught selling vaccines at P2,000 per dose. He didn't name the group.
"Sana naintindihan ng ating mga mamamayan na dahil pandemic po ngayon, na kailangan po talaga na kasama po ang gobyerno sa negosasyon with the private sector atsaka LGU," he said.
(I hope our citizens will understand that due to the pandemic, the government is needed in negotiations by the private sector and the LGUs.)
President Rodrigo Duterte meanwhile said companies are demanding an indemnity clause, which states that government will compensate for a person who suffers or dies after being vaccinated.
"The government cannot guarantee, much less give you an immune status na you are freed of any, and all liability. Masyado mataas 'yan (That's too tall of an order), and I think we cannot do that. Even if we wanted to," he said.
"In the first place, hindi atin 'yan. Ngayon kung nagka-leche-leche yan, or mishandled, or whatever reason it is not effective as advertised, then they will go against whom?" Duterte added.
(In the first place, that's not the government's. If that went astray, or mishandled, or or whatever reason it is not effective as advertised, then they will go against whom?)
The Philippines has so far received Sinovac and Astra Zeneca vaccines. It has been negotiating with other brands to secure a steady supply of vaccines.
Faced with surging coronavirus infections, the country aims to vaccinate up to 70 million of its 108 million people, or at least 100% of its adult population this year to achieve herd immunity and reopen its economy.