While Congress allocated P72.5 billion for COVID-19 vaccines under the proposed P4.5 trillion budget for 2021, Senator Sonny Angara said the actual number of Filipinos that will be inoculated will still depend on the brands to be made available in the Philippines.
The bicam-approved budget for vaccines was P10 billion lower compared to what was indicated in the Senate version.
Angara, nonetheless, said the total fund for vaccines may reach P82.5 billion as another P10 billion from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which Congress plans to extend next year, may be tapped too.
If all of the P82.5 billion would be devoted to vaccine procurement alone, the number of Filipinos who would receive two shots would range from 18 million to 225 million, depending on the brand that would be used.
Around 18 million to 21 million can be injected should Moderna, which is currently estimated at P3,900-P4,500 per two doses, be used in the country.
Some 22 million would be immunized if Sinovac, which costs around P3,600, would be the one available.
If Pfizer would be used, some 34 million can be inoculated as the price of two shots is pegged at P2,379, Angara said.
At a cheaper price of P610 for two doses, the AstraZeneca vaccine may also cover 135 million Filipinos, while 225 million may be immunized using the Novavax pegged at P366.
Angara's office noted that these prices are just rough estimates and may still change. The senator said the immunization coverage might be lower if the cost of storage and transport of the vaccines and other expenses would be considered.
"It all depends on which one we're contracting and if there is available supply as well," he said.
"It's very fluid and I think what is important for our purposes is we give that budget cover to the executive and they make the decision as to which vaccine they can procure in the most expeditious manner," he added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he was quite surprised that the executive branch did not reach out to the bicameral panel to discuss the specific amounts needed for the COVID-19 vaccines and other logistical requirements.
"So there is no plan? So whatever is in the 2021 budget, kumbaga hula-hula lang?" Recto asked.
"It's a rough estimate, your honor, because it's a bit of a moving target especially given where we came from in November and October, and things have been moving quickly because we were talking about three types of vaccines back then. Now I think there's at least six or seven vaccines," Angara responded.
Last month, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said around P73 billion would be needed to vaccinate 60 million Filipinos and achieve herd immunity.
This could be financed through loans and other bilateral agreements with countries that are developing vaccines, according to the Cabinet official.—LDF, GMA News