MANILA — Metro Manila Council chairman and Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez during his interview with DZMM on May 1, said Metro Manila Mayors are eyeing to start the mass vaccination against COVID-19 in June or when vaccines arrive in the country.
“The Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases advised we are part of the priority groups,” Olivarez said, confirming that most mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The inoculation of health workers resulted in rising confidence in the vaccines,” he added.
HERD IMMUNITY BY YEAR-END
In a report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), National Task Force against COVID 19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. told members of the private sector, multilateral partners, and foreign dignitaries during the Vaccine Summit: Equitable Distribution and Safety on April 30 that the Philippine government remains committed to building the country’s herd immunity by year-end.
The virtual event was organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
“As we continue to recalibrate our vaccination strategy due to supply constraints and the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, we are confident that the country will be able to achieve herd containment within this year, with the inoculation of 50 to 70 million Filipinos,” Galvez said.
Galvez noted that the Philippines, so far, has secured 148 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from seven manufacturers and they are scheduled to be delivered within the year while the bulk of the supply will arrive my mid-year.
He added that the figure does not include the vaccines coming from the COVAX Facility, which has committed doses equivalent to 20 percent of the country’s population.
Galvez said that as of April 29, the Philippine government has sealed agreements with five vaccine manufacturers to supply COVID-19 jabs for this year.
“With support coming from the private sector and local government units, the Philippines was able to gain access to larger vaccine volumes at a lower price,” he said.
It comes as the government allowed all private companies to procure COVID-19 vaccines as long as they enter into tripartite agreements with the national government and the manufacturers.
Galvez also confirmed that preparations for the vaccination of priority groups A4 and A5, which cover economic and government frontliners as well as the indigent population are underway while the simultaneous vaccination of priority groups A1 (healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with co-morbidities) is ongoing.
As of April 29, over 1.8 million Filipinos have been inoculated against COVID-19 and the Philippine government is expecting to hit the two million mark following the delivery of 500,000 more Sinovac doses.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, who was at the summit, said two million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines procured by the Philippine government from China are expected to arrive in May.
From the 3.5 million doses of Chinese vaccines the country has so far received, one million were donated.
In a report by The Philippine Star, the Department of Finance (DOF) said that around half of the total funding extended by multilateral institutions for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines have already been committed.
Out of the total of $1.2 billion in loans granted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), DOF Undersec. Mark Dennis Joven said that between $600 million to $700 million have been obligated.
During the Laging Handa briefing on April 29, Joven added that contracts have already been signed for the procurement of vaccines using the obligated amounts.
“So, we have a budget of $1.2 billion. There are other contracts that have not yet been signed but we have locked-in the supply already,” Joven said.
According to the report, funds would be drawn from loan facilities covering the $1.2 billion amount only when pharmaceutical companies are prepared to deliver the vaccines to the Philippines.
“To distinguish, what has been drawn from the facilities to pay for vaccines was only $100 million,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippines now has 1,062,225 total COVID-19 cases after logging 7,255 new infections on May 3.