Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno has assured the public that the government has sufficient resources to provide booster shots to Filipinos and even procure bivalent vaccines in the future.
Diokno disclosed on Friday that the national government still has $800 million in loans to purchase bivalent vaccines if needed.
Diokno also pointed out that the country still has about 70 million doses of vaccines. He noted that the average booster vaccination rate of the Philippines is only at 10,000 in the past few days.
He added that Covax Facility is set to give the Philippines 1.2 million doses of bivalent doses next month.
“How long would it take to use up [all of those doses] at a rate of 10,000 daily? Maybe 90 days,” he told members of the Makati Business Club during a forum organized by the group on Friday.
“As Covax said, as soon as you use up the 1.2 million doses we will give you more. Apparently, the rest of the world does not want to be vaccinated. There is a resistance,” he added.
Diokno was responding to the query of Jannette Jakosalem, managing director of Zuellig Pharma and treasurer of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines, regarding the possibility of allowing the private sector to import bivalent vaccines.
Jakosalem explained that without the extension of the declaration of a state of calamity, private companies would undergo the regular bureaucratic process of procuring vaccines, which is by securing certificate of product registration or CPR.
Undergoing the CPR route, which Jakosalem described as “lengthy,” would derail the arrival of new bivalent Covid-19 vaccines with early next year as the soonest possible time frame.
“The process is lengthy. With that, we do not expect any new vaccines arriving within the year. At best it would be early next year,” she said during the forum.
Diokno explained that the Covax Facility is willing to donate more bivalent vaccines to the Philippines and the national government can tap the remaining $800 million in loan to purchase new vaccines.
“We can use [the $800 million] to buy the vaccines. Under the terms, it is the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank that will procure for us. It is not the Philippine government,” he said.
“So we are covered. Let us not panic,” he added.