The Department of Health (DOH) is looking for legal remedies to enter into an agreement with COVAX facility regarding the delivery of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said immunity from liability and indemnification clauses are required by the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme.
These conditions are declared in the country’s state of calamity for COVID which expired on December 31.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Vergeire said the DOH had coordinated with the Office of the President through the Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Solicitor General.
“We have had several meetings for this past week so that we can be able to find that meeting point, kung ano ‘yung puwedeng maging option because wala nga tayong pinagbabasehan na mga naka-state sa agreements as to immunity from liability and indemnification,” Vergeire said.
This resulted in the delay of the delivery of bivalent vaccines despite several countries already signifying their intention to donate the new jabs, which target the globally dominant omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.
“We had a meeting with COVAX and GAVI and still expressed our interest na tayo ay willing to receive as long as bigyan lang tayo ng panahon para ayusin ang legal remedies na puwede sa atin so we can enter into specific contracts na nire-require ng COVAX facility,” Vergeire said.
The DOH earlier announced it was expecting over a million doses of the new vaccines to arrive in the country this month.
Those belonging to the vulnerable population like healthcare workers and senior citizens are prioritized to receive the first batch of bivalent jabs.
But even if more doses of the new vaccines eventually make it to the Philippines, Vergeire explained they would only be given to those who have received the primary series of a monovalent vaccine.
As of March 16, the country has fully vaccinated over 78 million people, 23.8 million of whom have received their first booster dose.