MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN): Amid criticisms over the delayed delivery of Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines, the government “stands by” its vaccine cluster negotiating and procuring the jabs for the country, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
“We stand by the vaccination cluster and negotiating panel that’s making all of the arrangements with different brands and they’ve been able to secure doses in terms of reserving doses, ” Nograles said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday (Feb 24) when pressed if he sees any flaw in the government’s handling in procuring Covid-19 vaccines.
"We’re moving along...we are getting our first shipment from Sinovac, and Pfizer and AztraZeneca are coming soon, ” he added.
Earlier, Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte is not holding anyone accountable for the delay in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines even as the chief executive expressed impatience over the hold up in the delivery of the jabs.
“In our timelines, we’ve always been very clear, quite clear that these are the vaccine brands we are expecting to come by the first quarter, ” Nograles went on.
“We’ve been very transparent as far as the timeline is concerned, ” he added.
The government’s vaccination programme was supposed to kickstart in mid-February with the arrival of 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine through the World Health Organization-led Covax facility. However, the delivery was delayed due to a hitch in paperwork processing.
It was later revealed that Pfizer-BioNTech had requested an indemnity agreement with the country. The Philippines has already signed and submitted an indemnity agreement, and the vaccine manufacturer still has to submit its counter-offer.
Some 600,000 doses of the vaccine from the China-based drugmaker Sinovac were also supposed to arrive on Tuesday (Feb 230, but were also delayed as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had only recently issued its emergency use authorization.
The Chinese government would need at least three days to process its delivery of the vaccine doses.
Meanwhile, Nograles thanked Congress for passing a bill seen to expedite the country’s purchase of the vaccine and establish an indemnity fund.
“We hope and expect the president, who also certified that as an urgent bill, to sign that bill now that the Senate and the House have done their part, ” the Cabinet secretary said.
“Hopefully, that will also move things along, not just for the national government but including local government units and the private sector, ” he added. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network