THE national government will not meddle with the acquisition plans of the local government units (LGUs) and the private sector, President Rodrigo Duterte said, saying his administration welcomes any procurement of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines even “outside of government structure.”
In his taped public address aired on Wednesday night, Duterte insisted that the government was “not forcing anybody” to join its Covid-19 vaccination efforts.
Duterte recognized that many LGUs have opted to “go on their own” and buy their supply of vaccines, adding they were free to do so.
He assured the public that the national government would not interfere with their choice of vaccine.
The President, however, said that medicines must still pass the government scrutiny to check their safety and efficacy.
Several LGUs, most of them in Metro Manila, have signed deals with the national government and British vaccine drugmaker AstraZeneca to buy vaccines.
Duterte allowed LGUs to enter into tripartite agreements with the national government and vaccine manufacturers so that they could purchase Covid-19 vaccines for their constituents who were not part of the priority sectors identified by the health department.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, the chief implementor of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has assured LGUs that could not afford to buy their own vaccines that the national government would give them a supply.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any vaccine for emergency use, which is required before it can be rolled out for mass inoculation. Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Gamaleya have applied for emergency use authorization.
The Philippine government is eyeing to inoculate 50 to 70 million Filipinos in 2021 alone as it hopes to close negotiations for 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines with various drugmakers this month.