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Salceda cites slowdown in daily vaccinations, urges local governments to encourage more vaccinations, explore incentives; House tax chair says vaccine stock enough for one month of ‘aggressive’ vaccination; Procurement talks now needed for COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir

October 8th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says that the daily vaccination rate for COVID-19 has slowed down, and suggests that local governments work with the national government to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 shots. Salceda cited yesterday’s figures, which recorded only 463,320 doses administered, far below what Salceda says is necessary to get to her immunity by the year’s end.

“Vaccination is still less than half the average we should be doing. I fear vaccine acceptance may be plateauing,” Salceda said.

“That is why local governments and the national government should be doing more to really encourage people to get their jabs. In certain cities, like Davao City for example, there are incentives for those who get the vaccine,” Salceda said.

Salceda says that there is about 30 million doses available in the country that are yet to be administered.

“We have around 30 million doses in store. That’s enough for a month of very aggressive vaccination, at 1 million per dose. I would strongly urge our local governments, especially in NCR, where most doses are and who can afford to do so, to set up incentives for those who want to get vaccinated,” Salceda suggested.

“The problem with getting vaccinated is you have to skip a day or two of work to get the jab. As I initially suggested last year, perhaps a day’s worth of wages may be a good vaccine incentive,” Salceda added.

Budget for COVID-19 booster may need to be reallocated to COVID-19 drugs

Salceda also suggested that the P45 billion allocated in the 2022 National Budget for COVID-19 booster shots may need a more “flexible provision” to include the recently released COVID-19 antibiotic Molnupiravir.

“Of course, vaccination is the key to some sort of normalcy, but if we really want a world where COVID-19 is not only controlled, but is no longer a fearsome disease, we need drugs that can cure them quickly.”

“Imaging not having to go to the hospital for COVID-19, and treating it like one would treat seasonal flu. It will really get us back to normal. The old normal,” Salceda said.

“With the release of Molnupiravir, I think the race for a mass-use COVID-19 therapeutic has accelerated. We need to procure,” Salceda added.

“So I would like to appeal to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to enter exploratory talks with the manufacturer already. Our neighbors Singapore and Australia are already procuring these drugs,” Salceda said.

Drug manufacturer Merck’s announcement that its antiviral molnupiravir had halved hospitalizations in a trial of high-risk Covid-19 patients was met with enthusiasm on last week, leading some to anticipate a world in which treating a Covid-19 infection could be as trivial as swallowing a few pills. #

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