The vaccination program for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) could start by mid-2021, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., said on Thursday.

“The best-case-scenario for the Covid-19 vaccination is May 2021,” Galvez said in a Laging Handa press briefing.

“One of our indications for the Covid-19 vaccination is the supply and demand,” said Galvez.

Galvez, the government’s vaccine czar, said a core group that will fully focus on the vaccination plan will be established.


Vaccine roadmap

Galvez said the vaccine roadmap is set to be approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Once approved, the government will immediately meet with a vaccine expert panel to prepare for the national immunization program.

The panel is composed of vaccine experts, technical experts, and scientists who will identify, evaluate, and recommend potential vaccine candidates for the country.

The government, he said, will create a core group to have organized coordination from the national down to the local level.

The task group on the COVID-19 vaccine will be led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH).

Galvez said there will be an integration of work and efforts within the vaccination task group to hasten the procurement process of the viable vaccine, once available.

“This will enhance the performance and indication measures through the integrated efforts of the agencies, so that, the DOH could concentrate on the immunization program within the local level, at the same time, the selection of vaccine,” Galvez said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, Galvez said boosting Covid-19 testing is a good example for the vaccination roadmap where “both the public and the private sector were mobilized together.”

“We will do the same here, the vaccination—we will make it available to the public, particularly for those most vulnerable people and the indigents,” Galvez said.

He added that President Duterte instructed them to prioritize vulnerable sectors and other marginalized groups for the Covid-19 vaccine.

He said the President wants the vaccine given free to the prioritized sectors and poor communities.


Logistical strategy

In the vaccine distribution, Galvez said the government will use the ‘hub-and-spoke’ strategy in preparation for the country’s logistical requirement for the viable vaccine.

“We are already having an initial planning with the private sectors and also with our logistic officers,” he said.

He added that the government targets to conduct a logistical summit to rollout various “complexities” of the vaccine’s logistical requirements including shipment, storage, and distribution.

Galvez then urged the public to continue adhering to health protocols and minimum standards while waiting for the availability of the vaccine.

“To be realistic, we have to see the worst-case scenario that the vaccine might be available by the end of [the year] 2021, considering the constraint of the different supply chain wherein the demand of the vaccine is worldwide,” he said.

Galvez said the country already has available cold-chain storage.

Some groups in the private sector have already volunteered to help the government prepare the vaccine storage, he added.

“I’m thankful to the private sector for throwing their support to us, like what they did when we ramped up our testing capacity,” said Galvez, noting that the private sector and medical companies have vowed to make a decent and non-profit vaccine price once available in the market.

Galvez said the government will sustain the localized programs against the pandemic during the implementation of inoculation for the Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine task group will operate under the supervision of the National Task Force and the IATF, he said.

Galvez, meanwhile, appealed to the local government units to start their preparations for the national vaccine program.

The government earlier said it targets to cover an initial 20 million Filipinos for the Covid-19 immunization. (PNA)