DOF: We’ll buy Covid booster shots this year


THE national government is bent on purchasing booster shots this year as the Philippines will be able to secure new financing before the end of 2021, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven told reporters the new financing will be obtained from the Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank by November; and World Bank by December or January next year for this purpose.

The new financing, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said, is “almost like a syndicated loan” and that the Philippines was ahead of other countries in securing this type of financing.

“We are not going to buy it next year, we are going to buy it this year. Additional financing [will be secured for this purpose],” Joven said. “The objective here is to have a seamless delivery of vaccines. So starting from January 1, we’ll withdraw from the new supply agreements already [to prevent any] disruption.”

Dominguez also noted that the government has started talking to vaccine manufacturers as early as last month. With this, he stressed, the government is “not scrambling” to purchase vaccines.

The DOF official said, however, that a recent meeting with the British Minister for Asia highlighted the issue surrounding the delay in vaccine deliveries.

Nonetheless, Dominguez said, the government remains on top of the situation and tries to be as proactive as possible to secure the needed supplies.

“We are trying to be as proactive as possible, proactive as possible, to make sure that we’ll be ready with a follow-on dose for next year,” Dominguez said.

While the subsidy of booster shots is already in the budget for 2022, Dominguez said, the next administration can also keep this in mind since vaccines serve as an insurance.

Dominguez said subsidizing Covid-19 vaccines is an investment in the health of Filipinos and can help ensure that the economy will recover faster.

Nonetheless, Dominguez said, this does not mean that this will be the only medical technology that will soon be available in the market.

He noted that there are already pills being created to lessen the effects of Covid-19, as well as nasal sprays which can help prevent people from contracting the disease.

“I’m not predicting that it’s only going to be vaccines because I think the technology will develop and, as shown, the prices will go down.

The price of vaccines, as the manufacturing gets more and more efficient, is certainly going to drop,” Dominguez said.

Earlier, DOF said vaccinating adolescents aged 12 to 17 and acquiring Covid-19 booster shots for both adults and adolescents will cost the government an additional P75 billion.

Dominguez told reporters on Thursday they expect to vaccinate about 15 million adolescents after some countries have announced that they would also be vaccinating teenagers apart from adults.

Previously, the Philippine government was targeting to vaccinate a total of 70 million adults by yearend.

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