SEN. Emmanuel Joel Villanueva on Saturday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, saying it would allow the Philippines to save face after being derided as the last Asean nation to roll out a vaccination program.
Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said the new law would make it easier for the government to close vaccine supply deals.
“It will make us competitive in the global vaccine race,” he said in a statement.
The new Covid-19 vaccine law increases the number of buyers, removes taxes, relaxes procurement rules and creates an indemnity fund that the vaccine makers required.
Villanueva urged the executive branch to use the law to shore up the national vaccine inventory.
“If there are 5 million vaccine doses before the end of March and another 24 million doses, then that would only cover 12 percent of the 110 million population at two doses per person. Hence, it is still insufficient,” Villanueva said.
“We’ve done our part. It is now their (executive) turn to do theirs. It is time for them to deliver. There is now a fund and a policy.”
CoronaVac to be used for frontline health workers
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the decision by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (Nitag) and the Department of Health-Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to use the China-made CoronaVac vaccines on frontline health care workers was based on science and evidence,
The decision was made despite the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to use the vaccine on frontline health care workers because it only registered a 50.4 efficacy rate in a clinical trial in Brazil.
Vergeire said after consultations between the Nitag, the TAG and FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo, it was clarified that the earlier recommendation by the FDA might change depending on available data.
“The [experts] saw this data and consulted with the FDA,” Vergeire said.
“We are not saying that we will be giving a less-potent vaccine, These Sinovac vaccines in general can lessen your chances of infection by as much as 75 percent and can lessen your chances of hospitalization and dying,” Vergeire said, adding, “I think that factor would be a huge plus for our health care workers.”