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DOH: Galvez to expedite procurement, rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. during a visit in Pateros for capacity building in the fight against COVID-19 on Aug. 7, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer and peace adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.’s appointment as COVID-19 vaccine czar will not cause any changes in the government’s vaccine plan, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday, amid criticism the position should have been given to a medical expert.

Instead, Galvez will fast-track the procurement and rollout of coronavirus vaccines once it becomes available, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

“We will not change anything in our processes just because he was assigned as vaccine czar. All the processes would still be continued,” she said in Filipino.

The health ministry supports the appointment of the former military chief, who will lead the country in the purchase, negotiation, production and distribution of vaccines against the disease, Vergeire said.

“He was placed in that role so we will have a more expeditious and more efficient manner of doing all of these things that we need for the vaccines that will be brought here,” she said.

Malacañang earlier explained Galvez’s new appointment, saying a vaccine czar needs “managerial skills.”

Vergeire stressed they had already formed a vaccine expert panel from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), a technical advisory group from the DOH and vaccinologists from different scientific institutions to ensure the vaccines would be safe and effective.

“This would be still be a whole-of-government, a whole-of-society approach. Secretary Galvez will not be working alone. We will help him. We will support him. The whole government will,” she said.

As of Tuesday, the Philippines has recorded 387,161 coronavirus infections with 7,318 fatalities. The tally includes 348,967 recoveries and 30,876 active cases.

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