City mayors in talks for possible purchase of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna

By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - Correspondent / @nestorburgosINQ - Inquirer.net | January 14,2021 - 12:07 PM

ILOILO CITY –– City governments under the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) are eyeing to purchase more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines being developed by drug manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, chair of the LCP committee of vaccine procurement, said city governments want to source out more vaccines even as major cities have already entered into purchase agreements with the British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

He said the volume of vaccines covered under the purchase agreements still could not cover the needed vaccine doses for local government units even with those provided by the national government.

Treñas also pointed out that the priority of vaccination of the national government would be the key areas and population centers.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced that the priority areas include Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region, Calabarzon, Davao region, and Cebu City.

The national government has entered into a contract with Chinese drug manufacturer Sinovac Biotech Ltd. for 25 million doses of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine, but this came under criticism from legislators because the Chinese manufacturer has not applied for emergency use authorization in the Philippines.

Treñas said that while the AstraZeneca vaccines were expected to be delivered in the second half of the year, these are more suited to local government units because of their lower price, efficacy, and storage requirements.

The AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in regular freezers and is significantly cheaper than Sinovac, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine also needs to be stored at negative 70 degrees Celsius.

The LCP held an online general assembly with National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday to discuss the procurement and roll-out of vaccines.

The procurement, payment, and delivery of the vaccines of the local government will be through the national government.

Treñas said there was also a need for local government units to prepare for the roll-out of vaccines, including the putting up or identification of vaccination areas, vaccine storage facilities, and the training of vaccinators.

Iloilo City has signed a multilateral agreement with AstraZeneca and the national government for 600,000 doses for $3 million (P144.2 million).

Treñas said the vaccines would be for 300,000 city residents or around 60 percent of the population. The city has allocated P200 million for vaccines.

Nine district multipurpose gymnasiums in the city have been identified as vaccination areas, with residents from barangays to be brought there in batches.

At least 150 vaccinators have also been readied.

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