Vaccine czar: ‘No favoritism’ in distribution of COVID-19 jabs

MANILA, Philippines — Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday denied the claim of a lawmaker that there was preferential treatment in the allocation of COVID-19 jabs in the country.

Galvez explained COVID-19 vaccines are coursed through the Centers for Health Development of the Department of Health and local government units, which distribute jabs to eligible recipients.

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“We would like to contest the statement of [Rep. Janette] Garin because there really is no favoritism in what we’re doing,” Galvez said.

Last week, Garin — Iloilo representative and a senior deputy minority leader at the House,  called out the “palakasan” (patronage or favoritism) in vaccine allocation for areas visited by Galvez and testing czar Vince Dizon. Garin is a former health secretary.

“Ang ginagawa natin pag tumawag ang isang LGU and they rationalize na kailangan namin ganito na vaccine na matanggap kasi ganito pa lang ang natatanggap namin, which is sa amin ay very reasonable naman,” Galvez said.

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(What we’re doing is when an LGU calls us and they rationalize that they need more supplies because they only received this much—which for us is very reasonable.)

The vaccine czar claimed Garin asked for allocations of COVID-19 shots.

“What [Secretary] Garin wanted was to give her the doses, which is not correct,” Galvez said in Filipino, noting lawmakers are not part of the system of vaccine distribution.

He also urged politicians not to use vaccines as a “political weapon.”

Since March, over 2.8 million people have completed vaccination, while 8.8 million have received one of the two doses. 

Earlier, the national government instructed local governments to focus on inoculating those who have received the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine until supplies become stable.

Reporting by Syd Castillo

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