Philippines joins global facility that ensures COVID-19 vaccine access

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2020 11:32 AM | Updated as of Jul 24 2020 06:35 PM

MANILA - The Philippines is set to join a global coronavirus facility that helps ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, Malacañang announced Friday, after the government's pandemic task force approved the country's participation.

The pandemic task force also approved the corresponding allocation of funds for the country's participation in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The World Health Organization has described the facility as a "mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide."

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that COVAX is under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator, a global collaboration to speed up the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

It involves not just government institutions but also private sector, civil society and the academe. Among the organizations participating are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.

“Kapag fully financed na po ang COVAX, maaari nitong bigyan ang lahat ng participating governments (tulad ng Pilipinas) ng naaayon na share oras na magkaroon ng matagumpay na vaccine production,” Vergeire said during a televised briefing on Friday.

(Once COVAX is fully financed, it can give participating governments like the Philippines its corresponding share once vaccine production succeeds.)

Over 150 countries have joined the facility that aims to deliver 2 billion doses of safe and effective vaccines that would have passed regulatory approval by the end of 2021.

"These vaccines will be delivered equally to all participating countries, proportional to their populations, initially prioritizing health care workers then expanding to cover 20 percent of the population of participating countries," the WHO had said.

Later distribution of a vaccine would depend on a country's need, vulnerability, and the threat of the virus, according to the WHO.

While the world has yet to find a vaccine for the rapidly-spreading virus, scientists worldwide have reported progress on different studies for a potential drug.

As of July 23, the Philippines has recorded 74,390 confirmed COVID-19 infections, 48,136 of which are active cases.

- With a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News.