DOH: 2021 budget for COVID-19 vaccine short by P10.5 billion

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gives an update regarding the new cases of COVID 19 in the country during a press conference at the DOH Headquarters in Manila on Saturday, March 7. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Funds allocated for purchase of COVID-19 vaccines in the proposed ₱4.5-trillion budget for 2021 is not nearly enough to provide immunization to 20% of the country’s most vulnerable sectors, the Department of Health said on Monday.

Only ₱2.5 billion is set aside in the proposed 2021 national budget to procure coronavirus vaccines for Filipinos. An additional ₱10.5 billion is needed if the government is to achieve its goal of giving two doses of vaccine each to healthcare workers and indigents.

“Kapag tinignan ang priority population especially as pronounced by the President, noong kinompute natin lahat ‘yan, it totaled to ₱12.1 billion, so kulang ng about ₱10.5 billion sa budget na iyan,” she said in an online media forum.

[When we look at the priority population especially as pronounced by the President, after computing everything, it totaled to ₱12.1 billion. So, we need an additional ₱10.5 billion in the budget.]

Although the House of Representatives has already passed the 2021 budget bill, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said they are working on increasing the allocation through the small panel amending the approved bill.

Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, ₱10 billion is reserved for COVID-19 testing and the procurement of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines.

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