P73.2 billion needed to vaccinate 60 million Filipinos vs COVID-19: Dominguez

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2020 12:43 AM | Updated as of Nov 24 2020 04:37 AM

Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/File Photo

MANILA (UPDATED)- Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Monday night said the government needs at least P73 billion to buy COVID-19 vaccines for 60 million Filipinos.

According to Dominguez, the country will get funds to buy the vaccines from three sources: multilateral agencies, domestic sources, and through bilateral negotiations.

He said a bulk of the funding will come from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank through low-cost, long-term loans.

"Ang unang source natin 'yung mga multilateral agencies, ADB at World Bank. Ang estimate natin, we will have around P40 billion from them. Low-cost, long-term loans," Dominguez said during the Cabinet's weekly briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night.

(Our first source are multilateral agencies, the ADB and World Bank. We will have around P40 billion from them through low-cost, long-term loans.)

Around P20 billion will come from domestic sources like the Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, as well as other government-owned and controlled corporations.

Dominguez also said the government will conduct bilateral negotiations with whoever will provide the vaccine.

The government eyes around P73.2 billion for 60 million Filipinos, or around P1,200 per person.

Dominguez said the 60 million target vaccinations can help the country achieve "herd immunity" against COVID-19. 

Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said at least 60 percent of the population needs to be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines for herd immunity to take place.

"Ang herd immunity is anywhere from 60-70 percent [of the population] according to the Word Health Organization (WHO),” Duque said.

On its website, the WHO defines ‘herd immunity’ as ‘population immunity’, where “a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.” 

The country's "vaccine czar", Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., earlier said the government is currently negotiating with 4 COVID-19 vaccine makers.

He said the federation of Filipino-Chinese commerce chambers is helping negotiate for the lowering of price for Sinovac, while the finance department is also helping secure a government to government deal via bilateral financing.

He added talks are also ongoing with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

“‘Pag nakuha natin ang tatlong ito (Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer), makakabuo po tayo ng 60 million next year,” Galvez said.

(If we get these 3, we can raise up to 60 million doses of vaccine.)

The Department of Health said first in the priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are frontline health workers, numbering over 1.7 million.

They are followed by indigent senior citizens (over 3.7 million), remaining senior citizens (over 5.6 million), remaining indigent population (nearly 13 million), and uniformed personnel (over half a million).

Officials project the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the country by the second quarter of 2021.

As of Monday, the novel coronavirus has so far sickened 420,614 people in the Philippines. The tally includes 8,173 deaths, 386,604 recoveries, and 25,837 active cases.

The new coronavirus is believed to have first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Based on the latest tally of the US-based Johns Hopkins University, more than 58.6 million people across the world have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, with 1.38 million deaths.

Treatment and vaccine for the disease are still being developed, but recent trials of pharmaceutical firms Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have shown encouraging results.--With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

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