MANILA – Procurement laws in the country and the “tedious” process of closing vaccine deals have slowed down the arrival of the doses in the country, COVID-19 vaccine czar Carlito Galvez on Monday said.
Under the law, local government units are not allowed to directly procure vaccines from pharmaceutical companies as they must first secure “the explicit approval of the President,” Galvez told lawmakers during the Senate Committee of the Whole investigation on COVID-19 vaccines.
“It needs an advance of more or less 50 percent of the cost because it is an investment cost [but] they are not authorized to have the advanced market commitment,” he said.
“Congress should pass a law authorizing for the advance market commitment of the local government,” he said, as he answered Sen. Pia Cayetano query on why regional peers were able to procure ahead of the Philippines.
“Nauna ang Indonesia (Indonesia got it first) because Sinovac nagkaroon ng clinical trial sa Indonesia… They have the privilege of getting it first,” Galvez said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the vaccine task force should step up to speed up the process of approving vaccines in the country.
“Kung sa ease of doing business pa lang bagsak na agad,” Lacson said.
(If we talk about the ease of doing business, we already failed.)
“‘Yung incompetence, like the coronavirus, is infectious if you hang around incompetent people. Mahahawa ka (You will get infected),” he said.
Lacson earlier blamed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for allegedly botching the Philippines’ initial deal to ship Pfizer vaccines to the country as early as January.
Galvez denied that there was a lapse with the Pfizer deal, saying some 40 million vaccines from the American pharmaceutical giant are set to arrive in the country later this year.
COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19, Carlito Galvez, Ping Lacson, Pia Cayetano, health, Senate