The Department of Health (DOH) said Friday that the Philippines needs P12.9 billion to buy COVID-19 vaccines.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje revealed the figures during the DOH’s 2021 budget briefing before the House appropriations committee. She added the department had allocated only P2.5 billion to purchase vaccines for the “most at risk” population, which include medical frontliners, barangay health workers, and indigent senior citizens.
Cabotaje said that the government would acquire loans from Landbank to cover the remaining amount needed for the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We need P12.9 billion po, pero P2.5 billion po muna ang in-allocate namin kasi po ang scheme, puwede hong loan sa Landbank para ma-cover ‘yung remaining budget requirement,” the Health official said.
“Ang mechanism po uutang tayo sa Landbank, magpupurchase po ang PITC-Pharmaceutical under DTI. Iyong pambayad ay kukunin po sa budget ng DOH in the coming years. So ‘yan po ang ating proposal for the vaccine procurement,” she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Philippines would go for the cheapest COVID-19 vaccine available in the market given the country’s lack of funds, adding all vaccines carry the same effect.
DOH: PH needs P12.9 billion to buy COVID-19 vaccines
“It’s there. I think it’s Moderna, it is a US company, I think they are ready by September. . . . Sinovac, China is also ready,” he said in a taped address.
“Kung sino magbigay ng mura dun tayo pupunta [we will go for whatever is the cheapest]. We know we don’t have much money, kung mahal masyado, we will go for the less expensive ones,” Duterte added.
The Bayanihan 2 allocated a P10 billion standby fund for the purchase and testing of COVID-19 vaccines.
BSP can give additional direct provisional advances to the government “to finance expenditures authorized by law that will address and respond to the COVID-19 situation.” The loan, however, should not exceed 10% of the government’s average income for fiscal years 2017 to 2019.