The Philippines pledged to source vaccines for at least three percent of the population from the Gavi COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access or COVAX Facility, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said.
The commitment is required when joining COVAX, one of the country's potential vaccine sources, said DOST Sec. Fortunato dela Peña said in an online press briefing. The commitment also assumes one shot per person, he said.
The country joined the global immunization alliance, which "(ensures) global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines." Dela Peña said the government could spend P1.5 billion for three million vaccines from the alliance.
Once a vaccine becomes available, that three percent coverage can increase to up to 20 percent depending on the need, he said. At least 60 percent of the population has to be vaccinated to achieve "herd immunity," the Department of Health said.
Free vaccination in poverty-stricken areas is top priority, Dela Peña said. "All the rest di pa natin alam kung papano ang sistema, kung may subsidy ba ang gobyerno o kung kanya-kanyang bili na lang (All the rest, we don't know yet, if there will be a government subsidy or if to each his or her own)."
The Philippines, which imports all its immunization requirements, has scheduled human trials for five vaccine candidates from China and Taiwan. It is also part of the "solidarity trials" led by World Health Organization.