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Legarda: Govt must provide the best COVID-19 vaccine to every Filipino

December 28, 2020

House Deputy Speaker and Antique Lone District Representative Loren Legarda today called for the urgent procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine for every Filipino.

“Let us not waste taxpayers’ money, government funds and loans which we will be paying for anyway to purchase substandard vaccines with low efficacy rate. Let’s not put people’s lives at risk. Let’s not scrimp on the best and the safest vaccines already approved by other countries’ medical experts and scientists by favoring the “puwede na” vaccines with much less efficacy rate. Huwag naman po,” appealed Legarda.

Legarda emphasized the need to fast-track COVID-19 vaccine negotiations and consider not only the cost but, most importantly, its efficacy. As the country continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccine will ensure the safety of the Filipino people against the virus as well as a better chance for a sustainable pandemic recovery.

“Procure the best vaccine, with the highest efficacy rate, approved by countries with high standards. Lay out the nationwide immunization plan based on priority sectors and identify vaccine centers as early as now. That’s the best new year’s gift the government can give to our people,” Legarda added.

To ensure easy access to vaccine supply by the public, Legarda likewise supported the suggestion of some local government units to do the procurement themselves, in accordance with existing rules and regulations. “Moreover, this gives the local officials the flexibility to consider other available vaccine choices, and they will not be tied down to Chinese vaccines with only 50 % efficacy rate per Brazil trials, which seem to be the preferred vaccine of choice by the Department of Health (DOH),” Legarda added.

The three-term Senator also called for the immediate imposition of a temporary travel ban of passengers coming from countries with the known variant COVID-19 virus. It may also be recalled that, on 29 January this year, Legarda called on concerned government agencies to consider a temporary travel ban on inbound passengers coming from Mainland China, during the Question Hour conducted by the House of Representatives, to help contain the spread of the virus. At that time, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque assured the public that the country can handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, however, there had been 438,780 cases and 9,124 deaths related to COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“A travel ban from countries with known mutant coronavirus must be seriously considered now. We cannot afford to be laid back again and wait for local transmission to surge. It’s the life, safety and security of our people that will be put to risk. The time to act on this issue is now,” Legarda concluded.***