Malacañang on Monday denied that delay in the delivery of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to the country was due to “mismanagement” of the procurement process.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon blamed “mismanagement” of the procurement process as another reason for the delay in vaccine delivery, aside from the absence of an indemnification law.
However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disagreed with Drilon’s statement, insisting that the lack of an indemnification law is the only reason for the delay.
Roque said there is a letter from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX Facility to prove that the vaccines were supposed to arrive mid-February.
“Well, we obviously disagree and that’s clear. We have a letter, they cannot deny the letter from COVAX that says Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive mid-February,” he said in a Palace press briefing partly in Filipino.
Citing vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Roque said vaccine developers are concerned with the country’s previous experience with the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
“There are some manufacturers who were afraid because it’s only in the Philippines where vaccines approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and WHO face charges,” he said.
The indemnification law, he said, would protect the drug company in case of unexpected adverse events.
“Of course, they need to protect their interests because they might end up in jail despite manufacturing vaccines for Covid-19,” he said.
Meanwhile, Roque expressed hope that critics would have nothing else to complain about once the government kicks off its Covid-19 immunization campaign.
The initial delivery to the country of 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from WHO’s COVAX scheme had been delayed due to the need to finalize indemnification agreements.
Last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the proposed law mandating an indemnification fund for people who might experience the possible adverse effects of Covid-19 vaccines.On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on second reading the proposed bill. SOVEREIGNPH