Press Release
November 4, 2020

Bong Go to vaccine czar: COVID-19 national vaccine program must ensure sufficient and equitable provision of vaccines, poor and vulnerable must be prioritized

Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher "Bong" Go reiterated his call to develop a national vaccination program against COVID-19 that would facilitate the vaccine supply chain and ensure the equitable and systematic provision of the vaccine once it is available.

"Habang sinisiguradong safe and effective ang vaccines at isinasagawa ang clinical trials, paghandaan na dapat kung paano gagawing available, accessible at affordable ang mga ito sa lahat ng Pilipino, lalo na ang mga pinaka-nangangailangan," he stressed.

"Huwag natin pabayaan ang mga ordinaryong Pilipino na kailangan na makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay upang maibangon mula sa kahirapan ang kanilang pamilya," he added.

He likewise reiterated support for President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to prioritize the immunization of the poor and vulnerable who have been most affected by the pandemic, and frontliners, such as medical workers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, who are most at risk.

"When the time comes that there is a vaccine and medicine against COVID-19, we must be ready to provide these to all Filipinos who are in need whether they are rich or not. Dapat magkaroon tayo ng plano kung saan pantay-pantay at hindi lang ang mga may kaya sa buhay ang makakuha," said Go.

Currently, over 100 vaccine candidates are now under development around the world, with some having progressed to the advanced human trial stage. The government has set aside a total of P10 billion as standby funds for the testing and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and medication under Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Because of these considerations, Go emphasized the need to formulate an overall strategy to be able to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the general population. He also urged concerned agencies to work together and prepare for possible collaborations with foreign governments and entities in anticipation of the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

Furthermore, Go asked government to ensure the speedy and uninterrupted entry of vaccines into the country by putting in place a national strategy to secure the supply chain for the COVID-19 vaccine, medicines and other related health commodities. He specifically urged authorities to prepare cold storage facilities and other equipment needed for the inventory, use and distribution of the vaccines.

The Senator also expressed support for President Duterte's recent decision to appoint National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. as vaccine czar who could lead the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine program and spearhead the aforementioned efforts.

"Buo ang aking tiwala kay General Galvez. Kailangan natin ng tao dyan na may alam sa logistics, supply chain, at crisis management. Tulungan natin siya," he said.

In recent months, Go has repeatedly issued warnings against rushing the development of the COVID-19 vaccines and emphasized the need to ensure its safety and effectiveness.

"Huwag tayong masyadong magmadali dahil napakaimportante po na ma-declare ito as safe. Ayaw natin na mayroon na namang another controversy na mangyayari tungkol dito sa vaccine. Importante po para sa amin ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino," he stressed.

He reminded the Department of Science and Technology, the lead agency in charge of the country's participation in the COVID-19 clinical trials, to ensure that all necessary processes are expedited but still in strict compliance to the applicable scientific standards.

Until then, the Senator asked the public to continue complying with the government-issued health and safety protocols by wearing masks and face shields, observing social distancing, and frequently washing their hands, among others, to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Ako'y natutuwa na ang Pilipino ay disiplinado po at sumusunod sa paalaala ng gobyerno. Just cooperate with the government. Para po ito sa inyo. Lahat po ng aming ginagawa ay para sa inyo po," he said.

"Patuloy lang po tayong magbayanihan at magmalasakit sa kapwa. Malalampasan rin natin ang krisis na ito. Huwag po kayo mawalan ng pag-asa. Kapag mayroon na pong vaccine, uunahin po namin ang mga mahihirap at pinaka-nangangailangan para makabalik na kayo sa normal na pamumuhay," he reiterated.

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