NEWS ALERT: Mayor Isko releases P38.4 million as advance payment to AstraZeneca for 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine

In line with the City of Manila’s COVID-19 mass vaccination roadmap, Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso authorized the release of P38.4 million from the city’s budget on Friday, February 19. The amount is a 20 percent advance payment for 800,000 doses of British–Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses per person. As such, the 800,000 doses would be enough to vaccinate 400,000 people. Domagoso noted that while this was just a fraction of Manila’s population, it’s a very good start. He stated, “Fortunately, the national government allowed LGUs to fast-track the procurement process. I am thankful for that.”

The Government Procurement Reform Act only allows advance payment equivalent to only a maximum of 15 percent of the cost of government-financed projects, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado called for the easing of this limitation earlier this month.

President Rodrigo Duterte subsequently signed a memorandum order increasing the limit for advanced payments for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Parating na ang bakuna pero hindi pa rin tayo dapat maging kampante (The vaccine is coming but we can’t let ourselves be complacent),” said Domagoso. “Let’s keep practicing the health protocols mandated by the Department of Health and let’s keep refining our mass vaccination simulation exercises.”

In January this year, the Manila LGU had the distinction of being the very first to enter into a tripartite agreement with AstraZeneca and the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF). Some 300 companies and over 30 other LGUs from across the country also signed the agreement.

The City of Manila has always taken a proactive stance in the bid to procure vaccines. In the face of businesses having to shut down and people losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Domagoso has repeatedly said, “Vaccination is the solution for the nation. So, the key to the city’s economic recovery is mass vaccination against COVID-19. Kapag may bakuna na, makakagalaw na ulit ang mga tao (Once there is a vaccine, people can move around again). Businesses can reopen and those who lost their jobs can once again go out and seek employment.”

The Manila LGU is fully prepared for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines. For starters, it set up a website, manilacovid19vaccine.com, where people can pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. As of the afternoon of February 18, over 88,000 people have pre-registered for the COVID vaccine

The city recently inaugurated the Manila COVID-19 Vaccine Storage Facility at the Sta. Ana Hospital which is equipped with a wide range of biomedical freezers that can store all vaccine brands available.

The City of Manila also regularly states mass vaccination simulation exercises to make sure that plan is to set up at least 18 vaccination sites that would each serve around 1,000 people per day. Domagoso continues to urge people to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccines that the LGU will be giving for free.

To address the problem of low vaccine confidence, Domagoso has already said that he is willing to be the very first person in Manila to be given the COVID-19 vaccine. “Yes, I will willingly get vaccinated publicly so I can show people that the vaccine is safe. Hopefully, the example that I set will convince them to get vaccinated, too,” the mayor said.