DOF secures funds for anti-COVID vaccines for kids

The Duterte administration has secured enough funds to inoculate children aged 5 to 11 years old against COVID-19, and expects the first batch of delivery today (February 3, 2022) of the medically approved doses for this age group, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

According to vaccine czar and National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the government expects the vaccination of 5-to-11-year old kids to start by February 4.

A report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the DOF has already signed agreements for an additional $800 million in financing for COVID-19 boosters along with vaccine doses for the pediatric population, which includes kids below 12 years old.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven said this additional loan amount would augment the current funding for pediatric vaccines and would enable the delivery of 30 million doses of Pfizer doses for the 5-11 age group.

Only the United States (US)-based Pfizer Inc. currently manufactures the vaccine against the coronavirus disease found suitable for children.

“For children basically, we need to use new formulation and only one brand provides this new formulation, it’s Pfizer. So from the previous loan, we’ve taken around 15 million doses for this Pfizer new formulation. And from the new loan, we’re taking around 15 million doses, again, new formulation, which is Pfizer. So that gives us 30 million doses of Pfizer new formulation for those below 12 years old,” Joven said during a recent DOF Executive Committee (Execom) meeting.

Joven, who heads the DOF’s International Finance Group (IFG), said the government expects the delivery by the first week of February of the first batch of vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years old.

The Finance undersecretary said that to date, 216 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for adults have already been delivered. This volume is more than enough to fully vaccinate the entire adult population, he added.

According to data from the Department of Health (DOH), 59.12 million Filipinos have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of February 1 this year. This number includes both adults and minors aged 12 to 17 years old.

As of Jan. 14 of this year, the DOF already raised a total of US$22.55 billion in budgetary support financing in relation to its COVID-19 response from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Korean Export-Import Bank–Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEXIM-EDCF) and foreign currency denominated global bonds.

In addition, grant and loan financing amounting to a total of US$3.25 billion have been contracted in support of various projects to be implemented by agencies involved in COVID-19 response, the DOF said.