COVID-19 vaccines storage, distribution not included in 2021 budget – senator

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Senator Pia Cayetano said that the storage and distribution cost of COVID-19 vaccines were not included in the proposed P212.7-billion budget for 2021.

During the budget deliberations, Cayetano said the DOH is fine with is COVID-19 response budget. Still, the department did not allocate funds for other expenses such as transportation, storage, vaccination training, and other incidental expenses.

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“May expense din po ‘yan. We’ll have to find a way to cover that because it’s not in the budget,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano answered Senator Manny Pacquiao’s question on how the DOH will strengthen the health care system despite receiving a “terrible” budget cut.

“As my staff confirms with me, we need extra budget lang for the supply chain,” Cayetano said.

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“From the storage to the transportation including ‘yung mga maliliit na bagay na kasama diyan, ‘yung syringes, and then pati ‘yung training vaccinators,” Cayetano said.

The Department of Finance (DOF) had confirmed that there were loan options available, Cayetano added.

COVID-19 vaccines storage and distribution

“The secretary has said that they’re quite satisfied with the budget they have for COVID response. The quarantine facilities are in place, the testing facilities are in place, the test kits are available, but they have other budgetary requirements,” Cayetano said.

“On the vaccine itself, there is a budget for that. It’s not sufficient, but DOF has confirmed that there are loaned facilities available to include this, and we’re also putting on record that we also need to provide the budget,” she added.

Health Undersecretary Carol Taiño previously said the DOH’s budget for warehousing for 2021 was not intended specifically for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Roomana said Chinese pharmaceutical developing COVID-19 vaccines asked the Philippines to prepare adequate cold chain storage facilities.

“It’s not a condition. It’s just a reminder that if you get the vaccine and you don’t have cold chain storage, then it’s useless,” Sta. Romana said.

Meanwhile, Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta also said the country should “be ready with some of the infrastructure para ho sa storage at the required temperatures” for the Sputnik V vaccines.

“There’s a version of the vaccine that will not require extreme temperatures, but it might be a little more expensive,” Sorreta said.

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