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Gov’t lays out strategy for COVID-19 mass immunization

The government will prioritize inoculating areas with high caseloads of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the country gears towards mass immunization against the fast-spreading virus, a government official said on Monday.

In his report to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said they adhere to the President’s directive to prioritize the poor and government frontliners in conducting mass vaccination.

“At ang gagawin nga po nating strategy, dalawa pong strategy po ang gagawin po natin para po maka-recover tayo at ma-contain kaagad natin ang ating pandemic, gagawin po natin geographical,” Galvez told President Duterte during a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Davao City.

The first strategy is deploying the vaccine in the epicenter of COVID-19 such as National Capital Region (NCR), Davao City, Cebu, and Bacolod.

“And then from geographical magiging sectoral. Meaning, kung sino ‘yung priority natin ‘no, for example sa Manila, ‘yung urban poor uunahin po natin ‘yon; ‘yung mga vulnerable uunahin po natin doon; ‘yung mga sundalong naka-assign sa NCR uunahin po natin at saka po ‘yung mga essential workers,” Galvez said.

“Iyon po mayroon pong impact ‘yon kaagad sa ating economy at may impact kaagad na ma-contain po kaagad. So ang strategy po natin, Mr. President, po is geographical, priority ang NCR, priority ang Davao dahil ang Davao po ngayon umaakyat din, priority ‘yung Cebu, priority po ‘yung mga Bacolod, ‘yung mga tinamaan po ng mabibigat ng COVID,” he added.

Immunizing areas with high number of COVID-19 infections will help the government in its assessment on the efficacy of the vaccines, according to Galvez.

So far, several vaccine developers are set to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines. These include Sinovac, Hansen, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, and CanSino.

After the President’s approval, Galvez said the government can now proceed with Advance Market Commitment and start negotiating with big pharmaceutical companies such as China’s Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

Galvez also told President Duterte that the government can secure advance commitment with Astra Zeneca for 20 million doses this month. 

The government is looking at multilateral financing institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance vaccine procurements.

Local banks such as Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines are also possible fund sources for the government.  

As of November 23, 2020, the country recorded a total of 420,614 COVID-19 infections with 1,799 new cases coming from NCR (465), Region IV-A (443), Region III (224), Region VI (105) and the remaining regions (562).  PND