Northern Luzon LGUs to acquire Covid-19 vaccines

BAGUIO CITY — At least six local governments in Ilocos Region have announced their initiatives to secure vaccines for Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), three of which already signed agreements with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines, Inc.

Dagupan signed the multipartite agreements with the company on January 8, the Cities of Baguio and Vigan inked the document of January 10, while Ilocos Norte confirmed the same undertaking on January 12. The National Task Force Against COVID-19 and the Department of Health are also signatories to the deals.

Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo Medina said he arranged for the advance purchase of 100,000 to 120,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We ordered doses enough to vaccinate all residents of Vigan City aged 18 years old and above,” the mayor said.

He urged his constituents to “educate themselves about COVID-19 vaccines” and ensure that they get the “appropriate and accurate information” about the vaccine.

“This will bring back confidence in our tourism activities, vibrancy in our economy and, most of all, assurance of our health, safety and security,” Medina added.

Three LGUs in Ilocos Sur province, including Vigan, already announced their plan to purchase the vaccine. Candon City and the town of Magsingal earlier allotted P22 million and P10 million, respectively, for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Candon Mayor Ericson Singson said the city is keen on acquiring vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Gameleya, Novavax, Covax and Johnson and Johnson. He added that the city remains open to other vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to him, they will work a plan out for the vaccination of 80% of the city’s projected population for 2021. The mayor is also hoping to accomplish this through pledges from private sectors. This includes a P10 million commitment from a private company to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

On January 12, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc also confirmed in a press release that the Province of Ilocos Norte pre-ordered 120,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca. Ilocos Norte will utilize a part of the P46 Million COVID-19 fund of the province for the procurement of an initial quantity of vaccines expected to benefit some 60,000 residents or about 10% of the province’s total population, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, Dagupan City said the vaccine agreement ensures that the city will have vaccines for its residents once the FDA approves the AstraZeneca formulation for use. The city manifested the purchase of 40,000 doses of the vaccine.

In the Cordillera, the country’s Summer Capital has taken the lead for COVID-19 vaccine acquisition.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the AstraZeneca deal will benefit 190,000 individuals in the city. The figure represents 70 percent of the target population for vaccination, aged 18 years old and above.

According to Magalong, the city is also engaging with other pharmaceutical companies for possible reserve supply. He said they are also talking with civic groups and individuals for pledges to provide free vaccines for the city’s residents.

Magalong said private companies and groups already committed to purchase 33,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Aside from this, the city is also working towards a P100 million allocation for its COVID-19 vaccination program.

AstraZeneca Philippines, Inc., is one of the five largest multinational pharmaceutical companies in the Philippines. The company is a subsidiary of British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which developed the COVID-19 vaccine formulation AZD 1222.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said five vaccine candidates have favorable efficacy and safety results. However, AstraZeneca is the “only one [that] published results in peer-reviewed literature.”

Multiple countries have approved the emergency use of AZD 1222, the first of which was United Kingdom. Other countries that had given the green light for the emergency use of this formulation include India, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico and Morocco.

Meanwhile, Pfizer-BioNTech received validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 31, 2020, putting it on the Emergency Use Listing (EUL), allowing countries to accelerate the approval process for its acquisition and utilization.

In December 2020, the executive arm of the European Union approved the utilization of the Pfizer vaccine for the whole of Europe. The United States, Mexico and Bahrain have likewise allowed the emergency use of the product. ●