Baguio City seeks more COVID-19 vaccine doses for nearby provinces

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — Baguio City is looking to tap other pharmaceutical firms aside from AstraZeneca as it seeks more COVID-19 vaccine doses in a bid to help nearby areas which failed to secure orders, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Saturday.

At the Laging Handa briefing, Magalong said the local government was eyeing to purchase 380,000 vaccine doses to cover 70 percent of its 260,000 target population. The city earlier inked a deal with UK-based AstraZeneca for the procurement of vaccines for 190,000 residents.

But the city government is looking well beyond its borders in its vaccine procurement plan.

Magalong said Baguio City has ongoing talks with Russian firm Gamaleya Institute and would also like to approach US drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna for additional vaccine orders.

"May orders sa Gamaleya para may contingency, [and] kailangan naming tulungan ang aming mga kapitbahay dahil hindi sila nakapag-order," he said.

"Kailangan namin mangolekta ng vaccines kasi kailangan din namin maibigay sa mga ibang probinsiya, kagaya ng Benguet," Magalong added.

[Translation: We have orders from Gamaleya for our contingency plan, and we also need to help our neighbors because they failed to order vaccines. We need to collect vaccines for other provinces, like Benguet.]

Magalong, who is also the contact tracing czar, also announced that activities at the Panagbenga, the city's annual flower festival, will be more "subdued" this year, amid the threat of the new COVID-19 variant. The celebrations were cancelled last year.

He said they need to control the movement of tourists, as other local government units near Baguio City do not require swab tests from travelers.