Philippines initially allots P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 04:56 PM

MANILA — The government has allotted an initial budget of P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday.

“Nag-prepare na kami ng budget, and part of that budget yung sa 2021. Nag-allocate kami ng P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters during a virtual briefing.

(We already prepared a budget for that, and part of the budget is for 2021. We allocated P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.)

“But of course, 'pag lumabas na ang presyo n'yan and how much we can be able to procure. Madadagdagan pa naman yan. But that’s the initial na sinet-aside natin for next year’s budget,” she added.

(But of course, it will depend on the price and how much we can procure. The budget will be increased. But that’s the initial amount that we set aside for next year’s budget.)

The health official reiterated the earlier announcement of the government that 20 million Filipinos, or a fifth of the population, will get the vaccine. This will require 40 million doses since the vaccine will come in 2 doses.

Vergeire said the DOH is still working with the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Department of Finance on the procurement of the vaccine once it is approved.

“Basta, may set aside tayo na money, we know this can be augmented kung saka-sakali, pag dating ng time na meron tayong exact na numbers,” Vergeire said.

(We have set aside money and we know this can be augmented once we have the exact numbers.)

Among the potential vaccines already approved by the IATF are those being developed from China and Taiwan. Some, along with vaccines from the United States and the United Kingdom, are among the so-called COVID-19 vaccine frontrunners.

While President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he hopes to have the vaccine before the year ends, some experts said it will most likely be available in the Philippines in early 2021.

Clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccines are expected to start this quarter.

The Philippines has logged 129,913 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Sunday, of which, 59,970 are deemed active.

The country's first case was recorded on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the disease is believed to have first emerged.