Foreign gov’t to supply Davao City COVID-19 vaccines if DOH allows

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /12 December) – An envoy of a foreign government official has reached out to the local government of Davao to supply the much-needed vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it gets the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the regulatory body of the Philippines, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

The mayor said over  Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday, that based on the initial exchange of emails, the envoy told the city government that their government allows its vaccine-maker to strike deals with any offshore buyer, aside from national governments.

A police officer scans the QR code of a motorist passing through a quarantine control point along R. Castillo Avenue, Davao City on Monday, 07 December 2020. MindaNews photo

She described it as a “positive” development noting that   previous communications the city had with a pharmaceutical company reached a dead end after the latter said they are not after profit and that its COVID-19 vaccines would be sold only to the Department of Health (DOH).

“An official from another country listened to our radio broadcast and then they already reached out to us and there were initial exchanges of emails already. This is very positive because according to them they are allowed by their country to sell to whoever is the buyer,” she said.

But the mayor said they have yet to ascertain if the national government would allow a local government unit to buy directly from vaccine-makers.

She quoted the envoy as saying, “we do not know if you need the permission of the Department of Health to buy from us.”

She did not name the foreign government.  The city is home to four consulates general:  Indonesia,  Malaysia, Japan and since 2018, China.

Last Thursday, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines plans to procure vaccines from Sinovac Biotech of China, Oxford-AstraZeneca of United Kingdom, and Pfizer-BioNTech of the United States next year.

The mayor  said they are  “waiting for that document also so that we will know what brand of vaccines will be given with the EUA by our national government so we can pursue them. But, as of now, we are not waiting for that because we are already seeking out company… if they will say ‘no,’ we will lose nothing because we are already in the middle of this pandemic. That is why, we are trying to reach out and talk and ask what are the possibilities available for LGU,” she said.

She said another vaccine-maker could provide vaccines to the city if it could participate in the phase 3 of the clinical trials.

“The only way to access, as of now, is if we participate in clinical trials. Their advice to us was to write a letter and request that Davao City will be included in a clinical trial so that we can access the vaccines for our plans of voluntary vaccination for health and non-health frontliners,” she added.

Davao City reverted to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified GCQ from November 20 to 30, but this has been extended until the end of this year.

As of December 11, Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 10,520 cases in the region, with 2,459 active, 7,651 recoveries, and 410 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 7,369, Davao de Oro with 483, Davao del Norte with 1,284, Davao del Sur with 784, Davao Occidental with 122, and Davao Oriental with 478.  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)