DOH sees delays in arrival of bivalent jabs due to lapse of state of calamity
The Philippines is experiencing delays in the arrival of the bivalent vaccines, considering the lifting of the state of calamity due to COVID-19, Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday.
At a press conference, Vergeire explained that conditions on the immunity from liability and indemnification clauses required by vaccine manufacturers and international agreements need to be addressed first before they proceed with the negotiations for the bivalent jabs.
“‘Yung bivalent vaccines medyo nagkakaroon lang tayo ng kaunting delays because katulad naman ng alam ng ating mga kababayan, ‘yung state of calamity ay na-lift na and alongside with this state of calamity, may mga kondisyon na kasama ‘yan na kailangan nating bigyan tugon,” she said.
(As to the bivalent vaccines, we are having a slight delay because the state of calamity has been lifted and alongside this, there are conditions included that we need to respond to.)
“Ngayon, ito ang hinihingan natin ng guidance coming from the Office of the President if we can enter into this agreement with this immunity from liability and indemnification clauses na nakapasok diyan para mag go ahead ng ating mga transaksyon at pakikipag-usap,” she added.
(We are asking guidance now from the Office of the President if we can enter into this agreement with this immunity from liability and indemnification clauses included so we can proceed with our transactions and coordination.)
The country’s state of calamity due to COVID-19 ended on December 31, 2022, despite the DOH recommending a further extension of it.
Supposedly, the first batch of the donated bivalent vaccines is expected to arrive by the end of March.
The priority for this batch will be healthcare workers, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities, according to DOH.
Vergeire also defended that the prioritization of the vulnerable sector as recipients for the COVID-19 vaccines is based on science and evidence.
“‘Yung sa prioritization ng bakuna, atin po itong pinatupad dahil nung unang panahon na tayo ay magbabakuna, kakaunti lamang ang resources natin,” she said, adding that the Philippines only received donations of Sinovac doses from China when vaccines became available.
(We implemented the prioritization because when we first started vaccinating, we had very few resources.)
“Tayo po, ‘pag nagpapatupad ng programa, it has always been based on science and evidence and during that time and up until now, may mga klase ng bakuna ng COVID-19 na maibibigay lang natin at nirerekomenda ng eksperto para sa piling populasyon,” she added.
(When we implement a program, it is always based on science and evidence and during that time and up until now, there are types of COVID-19 vaccines that we can only give and are recommended by experts for selected populations only.)
Vergeire made the remark in response to the statement of Senator Francis Tolentino that COVID-19 vaccine wastage in the country could possibly be due to mistakes in the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine recipients and the distribution of vaccines.
Tolentino said there might have been something wrong with the strategy for the vaccine allocation, with healthcare workers prioritized as A1, senior citizens A2, and people with comorbidities prioritized as A3.
This was after Vergeire confirmed at a Senate Blue Ribbon hearing last week that 50.74 million COVID-19 vaccines would expire by the end of March. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News