By Macon Araneta
Filipinos worry that no vaccine for Covid-19 will arrive in the country as the government is yet to sign an agreement with drug companies, stressed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on February 14.
“So I was saying that until a supply agreement was signed, our countrymen will be anxious that nothing will arrive,” said Drilon in a radio interview over DZBB.
“ I am appealing that our people be given an assurance that (Covid-19 vaccines ) would arrive and supply agreement would be signed,” also said Drilon while noting mass vaccinations going on in other countries.
Head of vaccine Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the COVID-19 task force and Health Sec. Francisco Duque III, earlier told the senators at the last February 11 Senate hearing on the vaccines rollout that no supply agreement has been signed between the Philippines and any of the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers.
Galvez said they still do not have any supply agreement. He also said the firm agreement that they have is through the term sheet.
But Drilon related that if there’s no (supply) agreement, the drug makers can still backtrack. “Kung wala pang down payment, wala pang commitment.”
Duque also said no sealed supply agreement so far.
But they are just expecting the arrival of donated vaccines on February 23. They are also hoping for the Pfizer vaccine of 117,000 doses expected to arrive as soon as all the documents have been completed and have been submitted to COVAX.
Drilon noted, “Let us not forget that based on the Pulse Asia, almost half of our people are scared to be vaccinated. Especially if we are saying that it’s not yet sure, no supply agreement was signed. That’s a cause for concern.”
“Almost half of our people are also waiting for the vaccines. What is important is the trust of our people on the government when it comes to pandemic management.”
“Marami akong naririnig galing mismo sa mga private sector in the medical profession na marami na ang nagpapabakuna, PHP4,000 per shot. Talagang maraming chismis na may pumapasok na smuggled vaccines,” he added.
He also pleaded the government to come out with a massive information campaign about the vaccine to encourage the public to be innoculated.
“Lalo na sa mga statement na ating narinig noong nakaraang hearing, kaya pinipilit natin na huwag pasukan ng pulitika. Kapag in-inject mo ng pulitika, walang mangyayari sa bakuna,” he added.
With regards to indemnification, Drilon said the government is amenable to take care of the damages and side effects from the vaccines.
He said the drug manufactures have asked that they be spared from paying indemnity in the event of any adverse effects from the vaccines.
Drilon said the “free and harmless clause” can be included in a supply agreement.
“Kaya kapag may demanda ang sasagot ay yung government at hindi ang manufacturers,” he added.