The P18-billion budget for the procurement of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) vaccines will not be sufficient to provide for every Filipino, said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
The said funding, included in the 2021 budget, could only cover 1 out of 5 or an estimated 19 million Filipinos.
“19 million plus Filipinos, so we will have a long way to go. Paano yung 90 million?,” Recto asked.
Based on the report of the Department of Health (DOH), the cheapest vaccine as of now is AztraZeneca, and it can be purchased for P610. On the other hand, the most expensive will be a vaccine from Chinese Sinopharm, which is estimated at P17,690 per person for two doses.
According to Senator Pia Cayetano, providing vaccines for 24 million Filipinos would cost P22 billion. This includes the vaccine price, supply chain expense, PPEs of health workers and post-vaccination surveillance.
On top of that, the storage of the COVID-19 vaccines have to be taken into account as it requires sub-zero temperatures.
“The other revealing thing in Senator Pia’s response is mukhang at this point, mahal ang made-in-China vaccine. Sana bumaba pa. Global talaga dapat ang paghahanap. Not all roads lead to Beijing,” Recto added.
The vaccine procurement plan shows that the government is slated to borrow funding from the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines. Afterwards, the government will tap the PITC to purchase the vaccines then turn it over to the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force and the DOH.
Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Recto is positive that the country will be able to pull through.
“So the entire process from budgeting, purchase, storage, delivery is fraught with challenges, but I am optimistic that we as a nation can pull it off,” he said.