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Senators agree to increase proposed budget for COVID-19 vaccines to Sotto budget for 2021

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Senators in MANILA, Philippines have agreed to increase funding for the procurement, storage and distribution of vaccines for coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) under the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 budget, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Sunday.

However, Sotto could not yet secure the specific amount agreed by the senators for the inoculation.

Yes. I’m not sure about the amount, he said in a text message when asked to confirm whether Senate lawmakers have agreed to increase proposed funding for vaccines.

INQUIRER.net is still seeking information from Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, regarding the exact amount agreed by the senators.

Proposed funding for the COVID-19 vaccination program, presented under the proposed Department of Health (DOH) budget, amounts to at least P2.5 billion.

Some senators have previously called for an increased budget for vaccines even before this confirmation from Sotto.

Pro-Tempore Senate President Ralph Recto, for example, pushed for at least P100 billion in funding to buy coronavirus vaccines next year.

He said the country would need this amount to a minimum to ensure that a sufficient portion of the country’s 105 million people would be vaccinated against the virus. He also noted the logistical costs in distributing and administering vaccines.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, earlier said the budget set aside for purchasing vaccines is highly insufficient, noting that vaccination would also require large logistical and human resource requirements.

For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the P2.5 billion would only cover the vaccination of 3.9 million Filipinos. He said DOH would need at least P10 billion for vaccines.

The House of Representatives was also previously able to provide P5.5 billion more to increase the P2.5 billion budget for inoculation machinery.

According to the DOH, the government wants to vaccinate 50 to 60 percent of the country’s population to achieve the herd community against COVID-19. Herd immunity is a concept in vaccination where a virus cannot be spread more easily because quite a few people are immune to it.

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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