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Diokno: No decision yet to buy 2nd-generation COVID vaccines

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday said the government has not yet decided if it will procure the second-generation vaccines against COVID-19  or bivalent vaccines that protect against the Omicron variant.

“The decision to procure is not done yet.

There is, of course, a recommendation from the Department of Health (DOH),” Diokno told reporters during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, early this month, said the agency is still in the process of negotiations with vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer regarding the procurement of the bivalent vaccines. 

Vergeire expected that the by the end of December this year or first quarter of 2023, the bivalent vaccines are available in the country.

Diokno said that in the future, when the COVID-19 vaccines are no longer under experimental status, “it can be procured by the private sector.

Joey Concepcion, who is a member of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Private Sector Advisory Council, earlier said that the Philippines should stock up on antiviral medicines and bivalent vaccines to boost the country’s defense amid the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) Chief Dr. Nina Gloriani also said the private sector was also looking to procure at least 10 million doses of the second-generation COVID-19 vaccines. —LBG, GMA Integrated News