Uncertainty in COVID-19 vaccine arrival irks Binay

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2021 11:58 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2021 12:37 PM

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Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday expressed disappointment at the rollout of the government's COVID-19 vaccination program as the arrival of coronavirus shots remain uncertain.

She said one problem that the Philippines has is that it has not yet signed any supply agreement and it only holds term sheets with the vaccine manufacturers.

"For as long as we don’t have that supply agreement, the delivery of the vaccine will always be a question. Paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, at this point ang sigurado pa lang ay na hindi sigurado kailan darating ang bakuna," she told ANC's Headstart.

(For as long as we don't have that supply agreement, the delivery of the vaccine will always be a question. I've been saying repeatedly, at this point, what's certain is that it's uncertain when the vaccines will arrive.)

The senator said the executive branch could have told legislators while they were deliberating on this year's budget about the problem in paying in advance and they could have added a "special provision" to rectify this.

"I think from Day 1 when we had this problem, lagi tayong reactionary. At this point, hindi tayo makahabol sa pag-solve natin sa problem natin sa COVID-19," she said.

(I think from Day 1 when we had this problem, we have always been reactionary. At this point, we cannot keep up with solving our problem with COVID-19.)

"Nakakailang araw na tayong kaka-practice pero wala pa rin 'yung bakuna and they can’t give us a definite date when it is coming," she said.

(We have been practicing for days, but there are still no vaccines and they can't give us a definite date when it is coming.)

Only China-made Sinovac has set a definite date of delivery. Binay noted the Food and Drugs Administration has not yet authorized the vaccine for emergency use.

"Para sa akin, hindi rin naman tama na madaliin ang FDA sa trabaho nila just because parating na itong Sinovac vaccine," she said.

(For me, it is also not correct to rush FDA in its job just because this Sinovac vaccine is coming.)

Vaccines from drug makers Pfizer and AstraZeneca have been issued emergency use authorization in the country. Sinovac has applied for one, but the FDA is yet to decide on it.

The Philippines was expected to receive Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility earlier this month, but the process snagged pending an indemnity agreement.

The deal, which states the national government will be responsible and shoulder the cost for adverse effects on those inoculated, has been signed, said Carlito Galvez Jr, chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 in a public briefing on Wednesday.

The Senate is also expected to ratify on Monday a bill on the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, where an indemnification clause is included. It earmarks a P500-million fund for anyone who would experience adverse effects from the coronavirus jab.