SoCot needs P780-M to buy Covid-19 vax

SoCot needs P780-M to buy Covid-19 vax

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The provincial government of South Cotabato will need around PHP780 million for its planned purchase of some 600,000 double doses of the Covax vaccine, an official said.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, said the province is currently drawing up the available resources to finalize the procurement of the vaccine, which is rated as highly effective against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), once they become available.

He said the Covovax vaccine is offered at USD12.99 or equivalent to around PHP650 per single dose at current exchange rates.

Based on his computation, the 600,000 units of vaccines would cost around PHP390 million for the first dose and the same amount for the second or booster shot.

“We can make the purchase once an EUA (emergency use authorization) is issued for Covovax,” he said in a press briefing on Thursday in Koronadal City.

Aturdido said South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. already sent a letter of intent to purchase the Covovax vaccine, which is developed by the United States-based Novavax and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

He said the cost of the vaccines will be covered by a 60-40 sharing arrangement, with the 10 towns and lone city shouldering 60 percent and the provincial government the remaining 40 percent.

For localities that have lesser resources, the local government is working on a separate sharing scheme, he said.

Aturdido said these will be discussed further today during the scheduled expanded provincial health board meeting.

Tamayo earlier said the vaccines to be purchased will augment the supplies allotted by the national government for the area in line with the nationwide mass vaccination against Covid-19.

With the province’s current population estimated at around one million, the province needs to inoculate 70 percent or around 700,000 residents to achieve herd immunity against the disease.

The Covovax vaccine’s efficacy rate has been reported at 96.4 percent against mild to severe disease caused by the original Covid-19 strain and 86.3 percent for the United Kingdom variant.

Aturdido said the other considerations for the vaccination rollout are the required supplies and cold storage facilities.

They specifically need to purchase auto-disable syringes, alcohol, adverse event following immunization or AEFI kits, safety collector boxes, and ice-lined refrigerators.

The official said the syringe has an estimated unit price of PHP2.50 each while the collector box, which has a capacity of 100 syringes, would cost PHP65 each.

For the ice-lined refrigerator, he said they are considering the same units currently used by local health centers that cost PHP700,000 each. A unit can only carry 86 vials or 860 vaccine doses.

“We will show these to our local chief executives and strategize what we can do,” he added. (PNA)

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