MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will allow the emergency use of coronavirus vaccines and has approved an advance payment to their private developers, his spokesman said Tuesday, 8 months into the COVID-19 pandemic that has dragged the economy into recession and robbed many of their livelihood while in prolonged quarantine.
This as drug companies announced successful trials of the vaccine, development seen to address the still growing number of infections worldwide, with figures currently at 56.24 million, according tracking by the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.
Pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna recently reported 95% and 94.5% efficacy of their respective vaccines following trials.
Duterte will issue an executive order for the emergency vaccine use. This means that coronavirus vaccines approved by the countries where they were developed can be used locally after 21 days, down from the current required 6-month verification, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Hindi pa po nilalabas ni Presidente ang executive order… Sinabi naman ni Presidente, ilalabas niya iyan," Roque told reporters.
(The President has not yet released the executive order. The President said he would issue it.)
The President has also permitted advance payment to private vaccine developers to ensure that the Philippines will get a supply of the drug, Roque said.
"‘Pag hindi po tayo pumayag, baka mangulelat tayo sa mga bansa na makakakuha ng vaccine,"
(If we don't agree, we might fall behind countries who will get the vaccine.)
Duterte in September said developers "must be crazy" for asking a "reservation fee" while a vaccine has not yet been developed.
Under the Government Procurement Reform Act, Philippine authorities or agencies are not allowed to buy items that have yet to be produced without the President's approval.
Local firms have committed to buying dosages of the vaccine. They will give 50 to 80 percent of these to the government for distribution among the poor, and the rest to their own company employees, added Roque.