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Palace adviser wants vaccines-for-pay led by private hospitals

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

PRIVATE hospitals need to be deputized to procure and administer the new class of bivalent vaccines for recipients deemed non-priority who are willing to pay, according to Presidential Adviser Jose Maria A. Concepcion III.

Mr. Concepion, the Go Negosyo founder who is also a member of the government’s Private Sector Advisory Council, said private hospitals can explore agreements with the government on vaccine procurement.

Bivalent vaccines are thought to provide broader protection against the newer COVID-19 Omicron subvariants.

“The 10 million doses, or however much the government decides to buy, will of course be set aside for the priority sectors, namely the elderly, the immunocompromised and those with comorbidities; but there may be others outside of these priority sectors who would also want the bivalent vaccines,” Mr. Concepcion said in a statement on Thursday.

Mr. Concepcion said that bivalent vaccinations can be carried out via a tripartite agreement, the arrangement adopted during the early rounds of vaccination which involved employers, the government, and drugmakers.

“Unless the vaccine manufacturers file a certificate of product registration (CPR), this round of bivalent vaccinations can be done through a tripartite agreement like we did before, but this time with the private hospitals,” Mr. Concepcion said.

“We already have the arrangement with the Health department that we will pre-register employees who qualify under the priority sector. But for those who are not in the priority sector but are willing to pay to be vaccinated with bivalent vaccines, we should also make it available to them through the hospitals owned by the private sector,” he added.

According to Mr. Concepcion, all COVID-19 vaccines are still under emergency use authorization, meaning that only the government can procure and administer vaccines.

He added that vaccine manufacturers need a CPR to sell the COVID-19 vaccines to the public.

Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Chief Medical Officer Benjamin Co said that the best option is to offer the bivalent vaccines to paying recipients.

“For those who can very well afford it, they can get it from private clinics that offer this and we can charge an administration fee plus the cost of the vaccine,” Mr. Co said.

“The remaining free vaccines can be appropriated to the rest of the population who cannot afford this but would like to get vaccinated,” Mr. Co said.

Rontgene M. Solante, San Lazaro Hospital chairman of adult infectious diseases and tropical medicine, said private hospitals can relieve the government of the vaccination burden, allowing it to focus its efforts on vulnerable people.

“This is critical especially with waning interest in booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Government should always find ways to engage with the private sector, which has been an important partner of DoH during the pandemic,” he added.

On Oct. 18, the Philippines detected the first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron subvariants XBB and XBC. The Philippines has recorded 81 cases of XBB and 193 cases of XBC. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave 

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