New generation Covid vax set next year

These new generation vaccines, based on their studies, would be targeting or can cover both the original strain of the Covid-19 virus and Omicron variant

Photo by Joey Sanchez Mendoza

September 13, 2022

The Department of Health is planning to procure the second generation of Covid vaccines designed to protect the people against old variants and Omicron early next year, Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire disclosed Monday.

Vergeire made this statement in response to Albay Representative Edcel Lagman’s query about the Health Department’s ability to distribute the upgraded vaccines.

Speaking during the House Committee on Appropriations’ budget deliberations on DoH’s proposed P195.63 -billion budget under the 2023 National Expenditure Program, Vergeire informed the panel that her agency is currently in discussions with at least two manufacturers about the new generation vaccines.

“These new generation vaccines, based on their studies, would be targeting or can cover both the original strain of the Covid-19 virus and Omicron variant,” she said.

“So with these two manufacturers which already have finished their studies and are getting their registration or approval in the US (United States we’ve already talked to them…the term sheets are being prepared),” she continued.

She went on to say that she was in discussions with another manufacturer regarding a non-disclosure agreement. Moreover, she said that if they can proceed with these transactions, they would be able to procure the next generation of Covid-19 vaccine by the first quarter of 2023.

The OIC earlier informed Lagman and the panel of the scientific observation of the diminishing effects of the first Covid-19 vaccinations.

No fund for SRA

According to Vergeire, the P1 billion Covid-19 Special Risk Allowance for health personnel remains unfunded two years after the pandemic struck the country.

“Still unfunded is the SRA of 55,844 health workers. We are discussing this with DBM (Department of Budget and Management),” said Vergeire, in response to House Minority Leader France Castro of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Partylist.

“This is worth P1 billion, and we are still waiting for their response,” she added.

Budget Director Sofia Abad, for her part, explained that the DBM was still reviewing the DoH’s recommendation for an SRA. She said they had already asked the Health department for additional requirements, which the DoH was able to deliver on 6 September.

“The department (DBM) is evaluating the propriety of the claims but we have identified the potential budget source to cover the request,” Abad said.

She likewise underscored that the DBM had identified the possible source to cover the request, which would be sufficient to fund the request for SRA.

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