PH eyes to immunize 3 million Filipinos from COVID-19 under global facility

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2020 05:47 PM

In this file photo Dr. Nita Patel, Director of Antibody discovery and Vaccine development, lifts a vial with a potential coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccine at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, AFP/File

MANILA - The Philippines aims to immunize at least 3 percent of its 100-million population from COVID-19 through a global vaccination facility, a top science official said Tuesday.

At least 3 percent of the population should be immunized for COVID-19 under the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña said.

"Iyon pong magiging available na vaccines ay nag-reserve tayo ng 3 percent corresponding to 3 percent ng ating population or 3 million vaccines para sigurado tayong mayroon agad kapag iyan ay naging available," Dela Peña said during a Palace press briefing.

(We are reserving around 3 million vaccines equivalent to around 3 percent of our population once these become available.)

The Philippines last month joined the facility, which the World Health Organization described as a "mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide." 

In terms of the cost of the country's participation, Dela Peña said the government estimates the vaccine to cost at $10 each or around P500. 

Outside of COVAX, the Philippines can procure vaccines from other sources should these be developed first, he said. 

"Kapag mayroon pong lumabas na bagong mga bakuna na available na earlier than what our clinical trials are expecting, puwede naman pong mag-procure ang ating private sector at ang gobyerno kung may lalabas na bago basta siya ay dadaan sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration)," Dela Peña said.

(Once there are available vaccines other than what our clinical trials are expecting, the private sector and the government can procure as long as these pass the FDA.)

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the Philippines could vaccinate the 20 million poorest Filipinos in the country for free under a financing plan.

Over 150 countries have joined the COVAX facility that aims to deliver 2 billion doses of safe and effective vaccines that would have passed regulatory approval by the end of 2021.

While the world has yet to find a vaccine for the rapidly-spreading virus, scientists worldwide have reported progress on different studies for a potential drug.