Gov't mulls allowing separate vaccine acquisition by LGUs, says Galvez

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 17) — The national government is working on a centralized approach in COVID-19 vaccine purchase, but a top coronavirus task force official on Thursday disclosed that they are also studying the possibility of local governments "separately" buying vaccines for their constituents.

This is after a number of local chief executives bared their initiative to raise funds to ensure that their residents will be inoculated.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said procurement will be "centralized," especially as he noted the current limitations within the vaccine market. However, he also didn't dismiss the possibility of allowing LGUs to secure their own batches of vaccines.

"Ina-analyze po namin yung kanilang recommendation… I reported this to the President na kung pwede mai-allow, especially 'yung mga priority cities, na magkaroon ng access." Galvez said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

"So ang magiging arrangement natin ay separate ang kanilang quota doon sa kukunin na quota ng government," he added.

[Translation: We are analyzing their recommendation. I reported this to the President, for him to consider if we could allow local government access to vaccine purchase, especially priority cities (those with high COVID-19 incidence). So the possible arrangement would be their vaccine quota will be separate from that of the government's.]

With the global scramble for vaccines, Galvez earlier explained that manufacturers have each set a quota on orders from the Philippines, ranging from 15 to 50 million doses. In total, the government is currently trying to secure deals with different firms to get 60 million doses by 2021.

Galvez also previously said the country's immunization program is seen to run for three to five years, with around 25 million Filipinos vaccinated annually. The government ultimately targets to immunize at least 60 to 65 percent of the population in a bid to achieve the so-called "herd immunity."

Meanwhile, Congress earmarked last week ₱72.5 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines next year. Of this value, ₱70 billion would come from unprogrammed allocations, which will only be available if the country exceeds its revenue collections or through approved loans.

Galvez, however, assured that the government has other strategies in financing vaccine purchase, including through grants and loans from foreign countries as well as loans from multilateral agencies such as the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

READ: 'Good as funded': Lacson confident gov't can source over ₱70 billion for COVID-19 vaccine purchase