PH inks indemnity deal for 2 jabs

The Philippines has signed an indemnity deal required to get COVID-19 vaccines from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca, an official leading the inoculation effort said on Wednesday.

Authorities submitted the agreement to the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that seeks to ensure equitable access to the vaccines, said Carlito Galvez Jr, chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 in a public briefing.

Under the indemnity deal, the national government will be responsible and shoulder the cost for adverse effects on those inoculated, NTF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said.

The processing of some documents earlier snagged the arrival of an initial batch of 117,000 Pfizer doses from the COVAX Facility this month, Dizon earlier said. He did not say if the documents include the indemnity agreement. Such a deal is standard requirement for vaccine manufacturers, Dizon said.

In other developments:

• The Department of Health on Wednesday said the country needs 50,000 vaccinators to inoculate priority sectors against the COVID-19 virus.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said vaccinators will come in teams, the number of which depends on the needs of each local government unit.

The government on Wednesday assured that major airports in the country are fully prepared in expediting arrival, Customs clearances, and handling of the COVID-19 vaccine shipments.

• Customs officials from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and the ports of Davao and Cebu made the assurance following the Feb. 11 Inter-Port Meeting on Vaccine Arrival Preparedness.

NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan said among the topics that were discussed include the Customs pre-clearance process, documentary requirements for importation and donation, expedite handling, and logistical challenges.

• Citing the need for the nation’s concerted efforts to act to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Sonny Angara noted “we won’t just be injecting vaccines, but we’ll be injecting hope.”

Hope, Angara believes, “is perhaps the single-most important ingredient to our recovery as a nation.” 

In endorsing to the Senate plenary, a bill that would, among others, establish a P500-million national indemnity fund for COVID-19 vaccine side effects, Angara said all sectors of society, all levels of government, all our policies, all our regulations, all our systems need to be aligned and properly synced.

“Every part will need to act harmoniously,” also emphasized the chair of the Senate Finance committee who sponsored on the floor Tuesday night, Senate Bill No. 2057 or the proposed COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.

* Saying that we are in a race against the clock,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday underscored the need to expedite the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Zubiri. one of the principal authors and sponsors of the Senate Bill 2057, or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, filed on Tuesday, said we need mass inoculation and herd immunity as soon as possible.

* Members of the media should also be considered in the priority list of the government’s national COVID-19 vaccination program without prejudice to other sectors already identified as priorities, such as frontliners as well as poor and vulnerable sectors, said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go.

According to Go, reporters are also like frontliners who risk their safety on the field just to keep Filipinos informed on the country’s COVID-19 situation.

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