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State should let local governments import vaccines — senator

A SENATOR has filed a resolution asking the government to allow local governments and the private sector to order coronavirus vaccines.

“Allowing the local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to procure their own vaccines will prevent the spread of the disease and hasten the efforts to further open up the economy, which in effect will restore and create more jobs for the people,” Senator Ralph G. Recto said in the resolution.

One condition is for the vaccines to have been authorized by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and private transportation to contain the pandemic. The lockdown in most parts of the country had since been eased.

The Philippines last week approved the emergency use of Pfizer, Inc. and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, which has a 95% efficacy rate.

China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., British drug maker AstraZeneca, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines also have pending applications.

Some local governments and the private sector have committed to fund and order vaccines as part of the state’s immunization program.

The government seeks to order 148 million doses this year and is targeting to inoculate at least 50 million Filipinos.

Allowing local governments and companies to import vaccines directly would quicken the order process and ease the burden on the National Government, Mr. Recto said. The government could also focus on priority and vulnerable sectors as well as the poor.

Also on Wednesday, the government said it would assess coronavirus infections during the holiday season before easing quarantine restrictions at the end of the month.

“When our medical advisers come to a point where they can comfortably say it will not cause a tremendous risk to the general population, then restrictions on age will be slowly eased as well,” Vivencio B. Dizon, deputy chief enforcer of the government’s anti-coronavirus efforts, told an online news briefing.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on Tuesday said he might propose to allow Filipinos as young as 10 years to go to malls to boost consumer spending.

Mr. Dizon said the government is trying to balance public health and the effects of a stricter lockdown on the economy. “We always consider the effects of community quarantine restrictions on our economy.”

Under the rules, only those aged 15 to 65 years may stay outdoors. Scientists are investigating whether children are more susceptible to the new coronavirus strain spreading rapidly in Britain, according to BBC News. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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