BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya proposed House Bill 8648, calling for the swift purchase of vaccines against Covid-19.
Gasataya, who is the vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, also proposed HB 8649 to expedite the distribution of the vaccines to local government units.
He said he submitted these bills during the committee hearing because it is necessary to vaccinate the people as soon as possible.
Through these bills, LGUs are given the authority to purchase the vaccines on their own and also to acquire in a faster and effective means necessary equipment needed to store and administer the vaccines, Gasataya also said.
Under the bills, a certain amount will be allotted to fund the monitoring of those individuals who were vaccinated against Covid.
The bills also call for financial aid for Epidemiology and Surveillance Units under the Department of Health, for those showing adverse effects following immunization (AEFI).
Gasataya is also seeking to exempt LGUs from taxes in the purchase, distribution, and administration of the vaccines.
Also present during the committee hearing were representatives from the DOH, the Government Procurement Policy Board, and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez.
The national government has allotted P75 billion for the procurement of vaccines for at least 57 million Filipinos.
The Philippines has secured 25 million doses of vaccine from China’s Sinovac, and the first 50,000 of the 25 million doses will arrive next month, aside from 15,000 to be used by the pharmaceutical firm in their clinical trials in the country.
Sinovac will deliver an additional 950,000 doses of vaccine in March, one million doses in April, another million doses in May, and two million doses in June, until all 25 million doses are delivered by December this year.
Aside from Sinovac, the government has also signed deals for vaccines developed by the Serum Institute of India and British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca. The government has also been negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Gamaleya Institute.*