MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday explained that it is unable to come up with a list of COVID-19 vaccine recipients because of a lack of the final list of vaccines for procurement.
“Until we can have a final list of the vaccines that we are going to procure, wala pa ho tayong maibibigay kung sino sino ang ating babakunahan (we cannot give a list of the people who will be vaccinated),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
This following Vice President Leni Robredo’s call for the government to have a list of vaccine recipients.
Vergeire said they also support transparency when it comes to the mass immunization program of the government, including the areas participating.
“Kagaya ng sabi natin, tayo ay nandito pa lang sa stage na fina-finalize natin ang plano. Fina-finalize natin ang criteria natin for identifying areas to be included and of course individuals,” she said.
(Like what we said, we are still at this stage of finalizing our plans. We’re still finalizing the criteria for identifying areas to be included and of course individuals.)
The Philippines is among the countries participating in the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 vaccines. However, the targeted start of the study has been repeatedly delayed.
Vergeire said the WHO still hasn’t released a list of the vaccines participating in the study, although they still aim to start in December.
Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo also said during last week’s DOH briefing that clinical trials often involve random sampling so it would be impossible to determine the individuals who will be randomly picked. Consent of participants is also needed.
The DOH previously said that the participants will come from barangays with the most number of COVID-19 cases.
The government has also said it will prioritize those most at risk such as the elderly, those with pre-existing diseases, health workers and other frontliners.
Vergeire said the criteria is based on WHO recommendations.
As for officials and so-called VIPs, Vergeire said some can still be covered by the criteria depending on their age and health condition.
She said the private sector can also purchase its own vaccines once there is government approval.
Besides the Solidarity Trial, the Philippines is also in talks with various vaccine developers such as China’s Sinovac.
Sinovac may be the first vaccine developer to hold clinical trials in the Philippines after passing the pre-evaluation of the vaccine experts panel.
However, Vergeire said the ethics review board is still waiting for additional documents from the company. Once their application is approved by the ethics board, it will undergo final evaluation by the FDA.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved pre-payment of vaccines. Asked about how much the US company Pfizer asked for prepayment, Vergeire said it is under the confidentiality disclosure agreement.
“We cannot disclose information as of this time. So magbibigay tayo ng ganyang impormasyon sa darating na panahon pag na-finlize na yan,” she said.
(So we’ll give that information when the agreement is finalized.)