An official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the vaccine for COVID-19 could be available in the Philippines by July 2021.
“Pinakamaaga na magkakaroon tayo ng vaccine diyan ay July 2021,” Science Undersecretary Rowena Guevarra said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
According to Guevarra, clinical trials of 4 or 5 vaccines in more than 200 Filipinos will begin in September.
It is said to be part of the solidarity trials conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in many countries.
The official said that it is essential to first test the vaccines on selected individuals to ensure that they are effective and safe before they are administered to the majority.
The Food and Drug Administration must also first approve the vaccine, and it will also be reviewed by the government’s ethics review board.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he hoped that the situation in the country would return to normal in December when China gives the COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines.
Aside from solidarity trials, the Philippines has also joined the WHO global project COVAX Facility, which guarantees that 3 percent of the country’s population will be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Guevarra also assured that the frontliners and the poorest senior citizens would be given free vaccines against COVID-19 first.
“Ang priority talaga niyan ay ang ating frontliners, sila ‘yong unang mabibigyan, tapos susunod ang ating tinatawag na indigent senior,” said Guevarra.
(The real priority is our frontliners, they will be the first to be given, then our so-called indigent senior will follow.)
DOST also ensured that the government had funding for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Friday at least 20 million Filipinos would get a free COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed.
He added the government would pay for the P20 billion worth of COVID-19 vaccines, which are expected to be available by December 2020.
“When that happens, DOH ang mamimili ng tamang bakunang bibilhin. May financing na po kami. The vaccine will be free for 20 million people, $10 per dose, mga P20 billion po,” the Finance chief added.
(When that happens, the DOH will choose the right vaccine to buy. We already have financing. The vaccine will be free for 20 million people, $10 per dose, about P20 billion.)