Even if the government could not provide free coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to all Filipinos, Malacañang yesterday said it is confident that the vaccines would be affordable to many Filipinos.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte said it would be "ideal" for every Filipino to be inoculated with the vaccine.
Roque did not directly confirm that the government would give the vaccine for free, but he was sure that the poor, police, military, and front-liners would be shouldered by government.
“Initially, we will buy for the 20 million poor and for our police, military, and front-liners,” he said.
Roque said the COVID-19 vaccine is estimated to cost USD10 per dose. Two dosages are required per individual.
“The vaccine is not that expensive. The estimate of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is USD10 per dose and we need two dosages so USD20 per person,” he said.
Roque said an estimated PHP2 billion will be spent to inoculate the priority demographics. He said this amount is already included in the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.
He also noted that USD12 billion would be needed to inoculate 113 million Filipinos.
“Roughly, we would need around $12 billion dollars if we will shoulder the cost. But I’m confident that it won’t be necessary because there are many who can afford USD20 for a vaccine),” he said.
To buy the vaccines, Roque said the government will borrow from the Philippine International Trading Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Roque, meanwhile, shrugged off criticism that the promise of a vaccine has become Duterte’s "political placebo."
“It is based on science. The fact that there are many vaccines on their third clinical trial means that there really is a remedy; there is light at the end of the tunnel. Take your time, hang in there, this pandemic is almost over,” he said.
He also said the President’s remarks about vaccine were intended to address Filipinos’ “pandemic fatigue.”
Duterte, he said, is a "voracious news reader" and knew about the latest developments of some vaccines.*PNA
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