Philippines allots P45B for more vaccines

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINE government has allotted about P45 billion for more coronavirus vaccines next year, the Finance department said on Saturday night, as the government strives to vaccinate the country’s entire adult population.

“I don’t think we are good only until six months,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told a televised meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, referring to the budget for vaccines. “I think we are good beyond 2022.”

“The question is, how do we use that money? Are we going to need booster shoots? Are we going to need another set of vaccinations?” he asked the President. “Whatever it is, please tell us so that we can properly allocate these funds.”

Mr. Dominguez said the Philippines was set to take delivery of about 171 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by yearend. Deliveries this year were more than enough to vaccinate the entire adult population, he added.

The Philippines has already received 30.98 million vaccine doses, including shots bought by the government and donated by other countries. About six million vaccine doses are set to arrive this week.

At the same meeting, Mr. Duterte slammed lawmakers for claiming that his government had been underspending funds intended for the country’s pandemic response.

Several senators and congressmen earlier flagged the slow use of funds under the second stimulus law, with P6 billion still unused.

The President asked his Finance chief whether the underspending was true. Mr. Dominguez downplayed the report, saying only 1% of the funds had been unused. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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