To ensure seamless rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III assures the public that the DOH will provide a detailed roadmap for the procurement of the successful vaccine. He disclosed that the Philippines is already in close collaboration and negotiation with several international pharmaceutical companies that are currently frontrunners in the development of COVID-19 vaccines in a Senate hearing last 18 August.

Likewise, the IATF approved in its Resolution No. 68 the creation of a separate sub-Technical Working Group (sub-TWG) on Vaccine Procurement that will be headed by the Department of Budget and Management – Procurement Service. DOH, as a member of the sub-TWG, will determine the appropriate vaccine deployment program including the vaccine to be procured and the required number of doses.

Prior to the rollout, the country will participate in clinical trials of advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates. “The FDA, together with the DOST and the IATF-Sub-Technical Working Group on Vaccine Development are closely monitoring foreign pharmaceutical companies who will conduct local clinical trials here in the country to ensure the vaccine’s quality, safety, and efficacy,” Sec. Duque explained.

Aside from independent vaccine trials, the Philippines will also participate in the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for Vaccines, a global effort to rapidly develop and evaluate possible candidate vaccines against the COVID-19.

Once a viable vaccine for procurement is identified, the Department will provide a detailed roadmap for its procurement and rollout. Details of which would include its budget, financing scheme, pricing schemes, interim reimbursements of vaccines, clinical trial insurance for side effects, participation fees for volunteers to the testing, and other specific guidelines.

To expedite procurement, DOH, as supported by the Health Technology Assessment Council, Food and Drug Administration, and the Philippine Medical Association, also proposed to waive the required Phase IV clinical trials, specifically for COVID-19 vaccines and medications in the Bayanihan II (Bayanihan to Recover as One Act). The bill, including the proposed provision, has passed the Congress and is awaiting signing into law.

“We acknowledge the limitations of the law in meeting the urgent needs to address a pandemic given the severity posed by the SARS-COV-2 virus, particularly in immediate access to much-needed vaccines. Rest assured that DOH, together with the rest of government and its partners, will act swiftly given the evolving study of the virus and the uncertain development of the situation,” the Health Chief remarked.