Puerto Princesa City has made it to the list of local government units that will be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

There are yet no details on the volume of AstraZeneca vaccines that will be delivered to the city or its schedule of delivery or any other features of the agreement except that the city, among with 32 other local government units, signed an agreement with the company Friday for a combined acquisition of around 17 million doses of vaccines.

Lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, city administrator and vice chairman of Puerto Princesa Covac (COVID-19 vaccine) program for administrative affairs, when asked to confirm the signing, said Friday evening that they welcome the development of realizing the Covac program through the deal which secured Puerto Princesa 200,000 doses initially.

“We are hopeful na makasama tayo doon sa mga first LGUs to have vaccines,” Pedrosa said in a text message to Palawan News.

Present in the physical signing of MOA on Thursday were British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce; Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion; National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr.; Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and AstraZeneca Philippines Country President Lotis Ramin.

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AstraZeneca, in a statement to the press on Friday afternoon, confirmed that a representative from the city government was among the 33 LGUs that participated in the virtual signing of a memorandum of agreement held on Thursday.

“AstraZeneca maintains our strong commitment to ensuring equitable access to the vaccine at no profit for the duration of the pandemic,” AstraZeneca Philippines country president Lotis Ramin said in a statement.

“We are working closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine lives up to the highest safety standards and its introduction complies with healthcare regulations in the Philippines,” Ramin said.

AstraZeneca also said that they are currently working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “on the preparations for a swift yet thorough science-led Emergency Use Authorization review”.

Pfizer Inc., an American pharmaceutical company, has already secured an EUA for the COVID-19 vaccine use in the Philippines.

City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, in an earlier statement, has ruled out Pfizer among the viable options for the local inoculation program, citing the lack of capability to transport and store the vaccine locally which requires -70 to -90 degrees Celsius.

An AstraZeneca doctor told Palawan News in a separate interview that their vaccines may be ordinarily transported through cold storage, which would be one of the handful tasks for an island city such as Puerto Princesa.

“It can be supported by our current cold chain capabilities. The ordinary refrigerator and ice bag can do,” a representative from AstraZeneca said.

AstraZeneca declined to comment on when they expect to ship out the vaccines, but said that “arrangements are being made”.

Bayron, in an earlier statement, has mentioned that part of the P500 million Covac funds were allocated for boosting the cold storage capability of the local health units.

The local government is targeting to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to around 70 percent of the local populace, pegged at roughly 200,000 city residents, or at least 400,000 doses.

Virtually present on the signing of MOA we Metro Manila cities including Caloocan City, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay City, Pasig City, Quezon City, San Juan City, Valenzuela City, and Las Piñas from the National Capital Region.

Also present during the signing of the deal were the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Quirino, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental, as well as LGUs of Baguio City, Dagupan City, San Nicolas in Pangasinan, Puerto Princesa City, Pulilan in Bulacan, Sta. Rosa City in Laguna, Taal in Batangas, Vigan, Ormoc City, Palompon in Leyte, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Davao City, Oroquieta City, and Zamboanga City.

A senior top official, in a separate statement, told Palawan News that the city government is also working on getting a deal with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to augment the additional doses.

 

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.