COVAX donating 1 million vaccines vs Omicron XBB

Rhodina Villanueva – The Philippine Star

December 16, 2023 | 9:15am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is accepting the COVAX Facility’s offer to donate one million doses of monovalent vaccines that target the Omicron XBB variant.

“It will be in two tranches of 500,000 each. This is so that we can still have access. Remember that vaccine now is not needed by the general population because many have already been vaccinated,” Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said yesterday.

Those who will receive these monovalent XBB vaccines are the “at risk” population – senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

“If you are a young individual with COVID-19 vaccine, you will not be needing this,” added Herbosa.

No more funds for 2024 vaccines

There is no budget allocated for COVID 19-vaccines for next year, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

At a press briefing Friday, Herbosa said COVID-19 vaccines are not covered anymore under the DOH’s budget.

“We’ve vaccinated 74 million Filipinos with (COVID-19) primary doses and boosters and then there are about 5 million Filipinos infected through natural immunity, thus high is the number of Filipinos who are already immune against COVID-19,” said Herbosa.

For new vaccines, the DOH chief said they haven’t also allotted budget for such.

“It is still in the experimental phase so we are still awaiting final registration before we can procure them and subject it to the evaluation/assessment of the Health Technology Assessment Council,” he added.

Herbosa stressed. “What I will emphasize to the public is that vaccine is not the solution (now). We learned that the solution is minimum public health standards, and managing your own personal risks.”

“This is the change narrative. During the pandemic, the government tried to protect everyone. Now, it is time to assess or manage individual risk. If you are ‘high risk,’ why will you shift to ‘risky’ behavior?” the health official said.

He added, “If you have cough, colds, why will you go to a party? Don’t go to parties or events, don’t go to school…”

Herbosa explained, “This is now the DOH’s approach. Whatever your risks are, that is what you need to monitor. And for every person, the risks differ. This is now our approach as to the issue of the need for vaccines.” Herbosa said.


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