City pulling strings to fast track AstraZeneca delivery

City officials are tapping into their personal network of contacts and friends to fast track the delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines ordered by the city government of Puerto Princesa City, even as the company had committed to deliver of the orders by September this year at the latest, city administrator Arnel Pedrosa told Palawan News on Thursday.

“September pa yata [ang delivery], but we are hoping for it to arrive earlier if possible. Some of our people are talking also with their former contacts and friends,” Pedrosa said in a text message to Palawan News.

The city government clinched the deal on Monday after paying at least P9.6 million as downpayment for the vaccine jabs, an amount equivalent to 20 percent its the total purchase order.

No definite timeline was provided, however, the earliest expected delivery would be on September according to city administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa.

Previously, the city government inked a deal with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Based on the prevailing calculations from the 20 percent initial payment, the total cost was pegged at P48 million, with the rest of the payment upon delivery of the vaccines.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the Philippines, in a press briefing on Tuesday said they are “optimistic” that delivery dates would be provided this week, as the Philippines “has met all requirements necessary for accessing the AstraZeneca vaccines.”

“My understanding is that there is no requirement in the case of AstraZeneca for further exchange of letters between the manufacturer and the Philippine government, so we are optimistic that before the end of this week we will hear from the Covax initiative on the likely delivery dates of AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines,” Abeyasinghe said.

The Department of Health (DOH) previously said they were expecting start of the delivery mid-February, during the pre-implementation phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

A top official has also confirmed that around 5.5 million to 9.2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which had already acquired an emergency use from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), have been earmarked for the country.

However, there is no definite number of jabs set for Puerto Princesa for the first vaccine delivery, citing the allocations would be “based on DOH”.

Puerto Princesa, which was among the leading local government units in the country raising for vaccine procurement, had completed all the trainings for its vaccinators, and the dry-run for the actual vaccination program on February 6.

Meanwhile, Pedrosa added that the city government has yet to seal the deal with Moderna, after its initial talks with the U.S. pharmaceutical company.

City mayor Lucilo Bayron, on January 25, said that the local government has placed and order to purchase 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, augmenting its initially signed deal of 200,000 doses from AstraZeneca for its Covac program.

“Nakaplace na tayo ng order na 100,000 doses pero wala pang tripartite agreement, ‘yong pirmahan ng national government, ng vaccine manufacturer, at ng pamahalaang panlungsod,” Bayron said.

Late January, Bayron had allocated at least P500 million to bankroll its Covac program, targeting inoculation for at least 70 percent of the local populace.

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