Bivalent COVID-19 shots should be commercialized, health advocate says

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — A health advocate on Sunday urged the government to improve public access to bivalent COVID-19 vaccines by making them commercially available and not depend on donations from other countries.

“We should push for commercialization of bivalent vaccines so people who would like to be boosted have access to it,” Tony Leachon said in a message to CNN Philippines, adding that major pharmacies have the blueprint for distributing vaccines on a large scale.

“People wouldn’t mind paying for bivalent boosters so they will be protected and live a confident, free and normal life,” he added.

The Philippines received on Saturday over 390,000 doses of Pfizer’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccines from Lithuania. The doses are formulated to target newer variants of COVID-19, such as the more transmissible Omicron.

The Department of Health (DOH) said healthcare workers and senior citizens will be prioritized for the bivalent shots.

Leachon, who served as an adviser to the government’s COVID-19 task force during the Duterte administration, said the DOH should call for a summit of medical and pharmaceutical experts to discuss the procurement of bivalent vaccines and avoid wastage.

He also said the government should launch a massive information campaign on the importance of getting COVID-19 boosters and go after those who spread fake news.

“People should be educated with the value of vaccination and boosters and penalize anti-science personalities and peddlers of fake news, misinformation and disinformation. We are too soft on this aspect. We need to crack the whip and let science prevail to protect our people,” Leachon added.

Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, a former health secretary, said the government should also hold accountable those who spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

“Expect the aggressiveness of the anti-vaxxers, hence DOH should have the political will to really buckle down to work and assist the LGUs (local government units) to the max,” she said.

“A whole of government approach should be done because those persistently filing cases against vaccinators and DOH officials are also from government,” she added.