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DOH: Only nat'l gov't can purchase COVID-19 vaccines granted EUA

Only the national government can buy COVID-19 vaccines that will be issued emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the clarification after two local government units — Manila and Makati cities — launched pre-registration for their own COVID-19 vaccination program, with Makati even guaranteeing to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to its residents.

“Iyong EUA na ibibigay ng FDA, ang puwede pa lang bumili niyan ang national government kasi nagiging available lang ang isang produkto sa market kapag meron na siyang certificate of product registration (CPR) galing sa FDA,” Vergeire said in an online forum.

“Hindi pa maibibigay ang CPR [ng COVID-19 vaccines] kasi technically, hindi pa tapos ang clinical trials. Nasa Phase 3 trials pa lang, although may exemption nga ngayon dahil mayroon tayong public health emergency,” she added.

Vergeire said that the national immunization program is within the mandate of the DOH, and as such, they are looking forward to working with LGUs.

“Pinag-uusapan na ito sa IATF. We are calling on local governments to work with us so we can pool funds for procurement of effective vaccines. Kinakausap na po natin ang local governemnt units para hindi po magkaroon ng technicalities [in procuring vaccines] and we can monitor it as well,” she said.

IATF is the Inter-Agency Task Force which serves as the government's policy-making body on its COVID-19 response.

“We have to remember that the national immunization program rests on the mandate of the DOH, and we can assure them [LGUs] na doon sa prioritization list, kasama kayo lahat, kaya we call on them to try to work with us for more effective vaccination deployment and implementation,” Vergeire added.

Only American firm Pfizer has submitted its EUA application for its COVID-19 vaccine before the FDA so far.

FDA Director Eric Domingo said that their evaluation on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be done by the end of this month.

The Philippines has recorded 477,807 COVID-19 cases as of January 3, 2021. Of this number, 448,258 recovered while 9,257 died. The number of active COVID-19 cases is at 20,292.  —KBK, GMA News