MANILA — The delivery of bivalent COVID-19 vaccine donation from COVAX Facility has been put on hold, the Department of Health said Tuesday.
According to DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, the agency is exploring available legal remedies in order for the deal to push through with the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme.
"For now, naka-hold po tayo. But we are confident that we can still push through and get this COVAX donation," she said in a press briefing.
The country's state of calamity for COVID-19, which had clauses on indemnification and immunity from liability required by manufacturers and donors, expired on December 31.
"We have tried exhausting all possible means so that this transaction will push through," Vergeire said, adding the DOH is coordinating with the Office of the President and other agencies.
"But for now, it is still being further studied by the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice," she added.
The agency earlier reported that the first batch of the omicron-targeted jabs would arrive by the end of March.
The DOH has secured 1,002,000 million doses of Pfizer's bivalent vaccines from COVAX Facility.
Bivalent vaccines are modified jabs that target the omicron variant and the original form of the virus.
As a "concrete option" for vaccine deals, Vergeire called for the passage of a measure creating the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"'Pag naipasa po itong Center for Disease law, tayo po ay nag-include diyan ng isang provision kung saan mako-cover na po itong mga iniiwasan natin or itong mga provisions na kailangan sa mga agreements natin with those that are going to donate vaccines for COVID-19 here in the country," she said.
(If the Center for Disease law is passed, we will include a provision that will cover the things we are avoiding or the provisions that we need for our agreements with those that are going to donate vaccines.)
As of March 16, some 79.1 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the DOH said.
Of the figure, over 23.8 million have received their first booster dose and almost 4.4 million have gotten their second booster shots.
Courtesy of DOH