MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has tapped peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to lead the importation and distribution of a future vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Malacañang said Monday.
Duterte in a televised speech said he received reports that some people were already "negotiating" for the vaccine.
The President said he wanted "only one line of authority coming" and he delegated the "negotiation, manufacture, production, or distribution" of the vaccine to Galvez, who is also chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
"Isa lang. Ayaw ko 'yang committee-committee. Matagal 'yan. I have great faith in Charlie to really come up with the solutions for the problem," Duterte said, referring to Galvez by the latter's nickname.
(Just one. I don't want a committee. That will take long.)
Asked to confirm whether Galvez will be the country's vaccine czar, Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque answered in the affirmative.
Roque earlier said Duterte had tapped a vaccine czar some 2 months ago, but the official declined to be named and wanted to "wait for the President to make the announcement anew."
Duterte's spokesman said that while authorities have secured funds for the COVID-19 vaccine, its importation and storage set-up remains a "challenge."
The potential coronavirus vaccine should be kept in a cold storage facility, where they would be frozen at around -90 degrees Celsius. The Philippines has only one such facility at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa, Roque said.