President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday announced retired Army general Carlito Galvez Jr.'s new role in the country's COVID-19 pandemic fight -- vaccine czar.
"The negotiation, manufacture, negotiation, production or distribution --- is ibinigay ko ‘yan kay Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever. Isa lang," the President said in a meeting with his Cabinet members.
This shows that the government is preparing for mass immunization, the next step in its pandemic response.
Here are details of the Philippines' COVID-19 immunization program from vaccine czar Galvez:
What are the key factors in choosing a COVID-19 vaccine?
So far, the Philippines is looking at 10 vaccine candidates, according to Galvez. Of these, eight are included in the COVAX Facility, a global immunization alliance.
"Ang gagawin po natin na strategy, we have the COVAX modalities and then we have the bilateral and then mayroon din po tayong tinatawag na multilateral [talks]," he said on Tuesday.
The government is placing top consideration on the following criteria in choosing a vaccine:
4. Costs and the supply chain requirement
5. Access for clinical trials and regional production and distribution
How will the vaccination program run?
The vaccination program, according to Galvez, will run in four phases, namely assessment, planning, preparation, and execution.
The following are the key stages of the Philippine COVID-19 vaccination program:
1. Scientific evaluation and selection
2. Access and Acquisition
3. Procurement Process
4. Production, Shipment, and Storage
5. Distribution and Deployment
6. Implementation and Nationwide Vaccination
7. Assessment, Evaluation, and Monitoring
When will actual vaccinations happen?
Based on the initial timeline of the government, the Philippines targets to roll out COVID-19 vaccines within the first three months of next year, provided that assessment and procurement would be completed by then.
Galvez said the government was in talks with different pharmaceutical companies on possible procurement arrangements of vaccines given that logistics is seen as a primary challenge.
"Ang tinitingnan din po natin sa procurement na iyong mismong magdi-distribute natin they will carry iyong cold storage. Isa po iyon sa mga negotiation na ginagawa po natin," he said.
"There are existing companies that can provide the services."