MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday vowed that the government would provide free vaccines to the disadvantaged, once a cure for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is available.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance a day after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his intent to immediately purchase a vaccine for Covid-19, as soon as it is developed.
“Well, alam niyo po siguro, ang mangyayari diyan, those who can afford ay magba-bayad, those who cannot afford, gobyerno ang magba-bayad (Well, perhaps, those who can afford the vaccine that will be developed have to shoulder the cost, while the government will pay for the vaccination of those who cannot afford it),” Roque said in an interview with morning show Unang Hirit.
He explained that individuals who are not covered by free vaccines could avail of assistance from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
“Kapag mga bakuna, mga diagnostic, sagot din po iyan ng PhilHealth (PhilHealth will shoulder expenses for vaccines and diagnostics),” he said. “Pupwedeng ma-cover naman iyan ng PhilHealth (That can be covered by PhilHealth).”
Duterte, in a public address aired on state-run PTV-4 late Tuesday night, expressed optimism that a vaccine for Covid-19 would be available by early 2021.
The President expressed such hope as he acknowledged that clinical trials for an experimental vaccine being developed by the United States’ biotech firm Moderna, Inc. were showing “positive” results.
Roque reiterated that the government is ready to implement an immunization plan once a Covid-19 vaccine is developed.
“Meron na po tayong nabuong plano kung paano talaga i-implement ang vaccination as soon as it (Covid-19 crisis) is over (We have come up with a concrete plan as to how we will implement the vaccination program as soon as the crisis is over),” he said.
Roque said the government would give priority to individuals who belong to the vulnerable sector, such as senior citizens and individuals with health risks.
“We’re praying po na unang-una, magkaroon na ng bakuna, at pangalawa, we’re praying na mabibigay natin sa lahat (We’re praying that first and foremost, we will have a vaccine, and second, we’re praying that all can avail of it),” he said.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for Covid-19.
However, clinical trials are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of new and existing drugs, such as anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-malarial agents, in treating Covid-19 patients.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners earlier launched the “Solidarity Trial”, an international clinical trial, to help find an effective treatment for Covid-19.
The Philippines’ participation in the WHO Solidarity Trial has been approved by the Single Joint Research Ethics Board in support of the Covid-19 global response. (ia/PNA)