Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Vaccine delay is beyond our control, senator says

It’s really hard to wait but we have no choice. The problem is not within us, it is in the pharmaceut­ical firms

- BY MICHELLE R. GUILLANG @tribunephl_mish

The delay in the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines in the country is beyond our control as the problem starts from the actual vaccine manufactur­ers, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Saturday.

“It’s really hard to wait but we have no choice. The problem is not within us, it is in the pharmaceut­ical firms,” he pointed out.

The lawmaker made the remark a day after presidenti­al spokespers­on Harry Roque disclosed that the President is already getting impatient with the delays in the national inoculatio­n program.

“The countries which made reservatio­ns during the Phase 2 clinical trials haven’t even received their vaccines yet. The (local government of) Quezon City would receive their vaccines in June, despite being the first to make a reservatio­n from AstraZenec­a,” he stressed.

Despite most Filipinos’ disinclina­tion to Chinese Sinovac vaccine, Sotto said it is the vaccine that would certainly be delivered first, most probably within the coming week.

He also pointed out another factor that contribute­s to the delay in the delivery of vaccines.

“The bigger problem is that some pharmaceut­ical firms are making sure that the indemnific­ation would be shouldered by the government to anyone who would experience severe adverse effects of the vaccine,” he said.

The President last week signed the certificat­ion of urgency for Senate Bill 2057 and House Bill 8648, seeking to create a vaccine indemnity fund and exempt local government units from the procuremen­t law.

The measures both seek to expedite the vaccinatio­n process in the country.

The senator also reiterated to the public that even if one was already vaccinated, there is still a chance for another to be infected with Covid-19.

Getting inoculated does not guarantee total resistance from the disease. One can still experience a mild case of Covid-19, he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara said that he understand­s the position of more than 70 local chief executives who have to make an advance payment to drug manufactur­ers before the deadline set on 24 February in order to secure thousands of vaccine doses.

He assured them that Congress would immediatel­y work on the passage of the bill allowing them to pay in advance, but stressed that they should still abide with the list of vaccine priority groups identified by the national task force against Covid-19.

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