This is to shed light on the concerns raised by the Honorable Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri regarding the multi-party agreements (MPAs) for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines which he said have not been signed and “put on hold.”

First of all, we would like to reassure Senator Zubiri that the National Task Force against COVID-19 and the Vaccine Cluster are determined to secure safe, effective and sufficient vaccines to inoculate 100 percent of the country’s adult population.

Through our continued negotiations with various vaccine manufacturers and collaboration with our international partners, our country has received 42,575,350 vaccine doses since February.

These include the over 8 million doses that have been delivered in the first half of August alone. We expect to receive a total of over 22 million vaccine doses for the month of August.

Our efforts to accelerate the implementation and expand the coverage of our vaccination rollout has borne fruit. As of August 15, almost 28 million jabs have been administered nationwide, with more than 98 percent of our health frontliners vaccinated.

Moreover, the Philippines now ranks 2nd in the ASEAN and the 23rd in the world in terms of vaccinations administered. Our vaccine throughput continues to increase by the day, as we move closer to achieving our target administering 750,000 jabs daily.

With these milestones, it is safe to say that our country’s vaccine rollout can be considered as one of the most successful in the world despite the challenges we continue to face in the global supply market.

The NTF is therefore committed to honor all the commitments it has made under the MPAs which have already been signed with local government units, as this is in accordance with RA 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program of 2021.

And for the MPAs that have been temporarily put on hold or have not yet been signed, hereunder are the reasons why the NTF has decided to do so:

– Moderna and AstraZeneca are no longer accepting vaccine orders through MPAs for the time being;
– Novavax vaccine has yet to receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA);
– Sinovac, Pfizer and Sputnik V intend to prioritize the orders of the National Government given current supply constraints;
– Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN, has yet to secure approval from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC). Further, we remain concerned about potential overpricing issues on the aforesaid vaccine; and
– Johnson & Johnson is currently not open for MPAs as provided for under RA 11525.

As we have explained in the past, our nation’s vaccine procurement efforts largely depend on the availability of supply which up to this day remains limited. This is why the NTF continues to actively engage various vaccine manufacturers.

We would like to assure our LGUs that the national government has sufficient funds to procure the vaccines. In fact, we have already ordered more than enough doses for our target population so that we can make up for slippages or shortfalls in deliveries.

But we have to face the reality that vaccine makers are still not able to produce at a level that would meet the requirements of all nations. The issue is not just about having the resources to procure the vaccines but its limited supply in the world market.

We would therefore like to call on our LGUs to be more patient. The NTF is doing its best to ensure that the vaccines are distributed as equitably as possible, and at the same time, ensure that they are deployed to areas where they are needed the most.

Finally, we urge our LGUs to instead use the funds they have allocated for vaccine procurement for strengthening their prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate or PDITR strategy. This, along with COVID-19 vaccines, remain the best ways to contain and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Finally, we thank Senator Zubiri and our lawmakers for the invaluable support they have given to our vaccine program. We hope to continue working with our highly-esteemed legislators as we recover and rise together from this pandemic.