Senate to Reopen Inquiry on COVID-19 Vaccination Program

Are more funds needed? Lawmakers ask.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Senate Committee of the Whole is set to reopen on Tuesday its inquiry on the government's COVID-19 vaccination program after Sen. Panfilo Lacson questioned the need for an additional P25 billion for vaccine procurement.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said it was Lacson who asked him to reopen the hearing and told him about the additional budget being required to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

"Medyo dapat talagang maeksplikang mabuti, at ganoon na rin, para rin namin ma-check yung mga policy na pinaguusapan," Sotto said in a DWIZ radio interview on Saturday.

"We are exercising the oversight function of the Senate kaya yung Senate Committee of the Whole can do that," he said.

The Senate Committee of the Whole, composed of all senators, convened in January this year to discuss the government's plan for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

According to Lacson, the additional P25 billion on top of the P82.5 billion under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act for vaccine procurement could either result in an oversupply of vaccines or be lost to corruption.


He estimated that if the total amount of P107.5 billion would be used to buy Moderna vaccines at $26.83 per dose, the government would be able to procure 83.78 million doses.

If the same amount would be used to buy Sinovac at P683 per dose, it would purchase 157 million doses good for over 75 million Filipinos, more than the target of 70 million vaccinations to reach herd immunity, he said.

If the government would push through with adding P25 billion to the vaccine procurement fund, Lacson said they should explain before the Senate how they will do it.

Among the expected resource persons during the hearing are Health Sec. Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., Sotto said.


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