• By The Financial District


Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has identified three sources for its planned P73.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine fund that will enable the government to inoculate 60 million Filipinos against the lethal coronavirus.

In his report to President Duterte during a televised meeting in Davao City Monday night, Dominguez said the estimates were based on an average vaccine cost of P1,200 per person.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during the meeting that inoculating 60 million Filipinos may enable the country to reach “herd immunity,” based on pronouncements from the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Herd immunity” is a vaccination term in which a population becomes protected from a particular virus after reaching a threshold or certain number of vaccinated people.

Dominguez informed the President that the funding sources include multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), from which the government can obtain around P40 billion through “low-cost, long-term loans.”

The government is also tapping P20 billion from domestic government financial institutions (GFIs) such as the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), Dominguez said.

Dominguez said the remaining P13.2 billion will be sourced from bilateral negotiations with countries from where the vaccines would originate, such as the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).

“So ang total niyan is about P73.2 billion financing–that is pretty much almost fixed. Most of it is already fixed. P13.2 billion hindi pa completely negotiated. So P73.2 billion,” Dominguez said during the televised meeting with the President.

With the government estimating the average cost of a complete vaccine dose at US$25 per person, or about P1,200 each, Dominguez said the amount of P73.2 billion will be enough to inoculate 60 million people in the country.

“Some are lower, some are higher so we don’t know exactly how much is the cost. But let say, US$25 or P1,200. P73.2 billion is good for 60 million people to be vaccinated,” he said.

Duque said that according to WHO, herd immunity can be acquired if 60 to 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, which means that with 60 million inoculated Filipinos the country would “pretty much arrest the spread” of the virus.

President Duterte said during the meeting that the country’s poorest population, and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be among those to be given priority in the would-be government’s COVID-19 immunization drive.