Philippine sets P1.5 billion for joining global vaccine alliance
Earlier, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved the country’s participation in the COVAX facility.
AFP/Douglas Magno
Philippine sets P1.5 billion for joining global vaccine alliance
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - July 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has allocated P1.5 billion for the country’s participation in the Gavi COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.

In an interview with The Chiefs aired on Cignal TV’s One News last Friday night, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said countries that intend to join the alliance have to commit a certain amount for the purchase of vaccines.

“If you want to join, you have to commit that you would buy a certain number (of vaccines) equivalent to three percent of your population,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

At an estimated cost of P500 per vaccine, De la Peña said this translates to around P1.5 billion.

“We have already asked permission to set aside P1.5 billion so we can join (the vaccine alliance),” he added.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the country’s participation in the COVAX facility.

He said this is in line with President Duterte’s commitment to look for ways to have access to the vaccines still being developed by various countries to fight the coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVAX facility is a mechanism designed to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the COVAX Facility would allow the Philippines to be part of the world’s search for the vaccine and be granted access on the same once developed.

“It is the ‘membership’ in the COVAX Facility. The amount we put in will be returned to us as vaccine, hence it is called Advance Market Commitment (AMC),” said Nograles, co-chair of the IATF.

The IATF has approved the Philippines’ participation in the Gavi alliance through resolution no. 58 (not 57 as earlier reported).

President Duterte has vowed to buy the vaccine for the country’s over 100-million population to put an end to the crisis that has affected millions of Filipinos in terms of health, job security and the economy.

According to the WHO, at least 75 countries have submitted expressions of interest to protect their populations and those of other nations through joining the COVAX Facility.

The 75 countries would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets and partner with up to 90 lower-income countries that could be supported through voluntary donations to Gavi’s COVAX AMC, the WHO said in a statement dated July 15.

“Together, this group of up to 165 countries represents more than 60 percent of the world’s population. Among the group are representatives from every continent and more than half of the world’s G20 economies,” WHO said.

Based on Gavi’s The Vaccine Alliance website, more than $8.8 billion has been raised from donor governments and eight foundations, corporations and organizations last month during the Global Vaccine Summit hosted by the United Kingdom.

The funds are intended to immunize 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria by the end of 2025.

Coconut oil

Meanwhile, de la Peña said the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) would start next week its trial on the use of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as possible treatment for COVID-19 patients. The PGH trial would be for moderate and severe cases.

Another clinical trial for VCO, for mild COVID-19 cases, is currently ongoing at the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital in Laguna.

VCO Producers and Traders Association of the Philippines president Marco Reyes said they have seen a spike in the local and international demand for VCO in recent months.

“There are foreign buyers from America and Europe… who want to book as far ahead as possible,” he told The Chiefs.

Reyes said the Philippines currently captures 65 percent of the VCO market worldwide.

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