The designation of national policy against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., as vaccine czar is “very well-deserved” as it would entail logistical and managerial skills, .Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be tasked to ensure the safety and efficacy of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, Galvez would be in charge of making sure the vaccine is properly transported even to far-flung areas in the country.
“Ang papel po ng dalubhasa at doktor siguraduhin na ligtas at epektibo yung bakuna pero para makarating ang bakuna kung saan man siya manggagaling papunta sa mga liblib na lugar ng Pilipinas ‘yan po ay logistics (The role of scientists and doctors is to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective but so that the vaccine reaches even the far-flung areas in the Philippines, that requires logistics),” he said in a Palace briefing.
Roque said Galvez would oversee logistical requirements needed in the delivery of vaccines such as cold storage facilities and refrigerated vehicles for transportation.
“Kinakailangan angkatin niyan sa lugar kung saan ginagawa dalhin dito via cold storage facilities by air pagkatapos dito po i-store din yan sa cold storage bago ‘yan idistribute sa iba’t-ibang lugar na ginagamit din ang refrigerated van (We need to acquire it from different places and bring it here via cold storage facilities by air and then it will have to be placed in cold storage before it is distributed using a refrigerated van). So it’s more of a logistics challenge than a medical challenge,” he added.
He noted that Galvez will also be coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) and FDA of the Philippines in matters involving the government’s immunization campaign.
Meanwhile, Roque reassured that vaccines would have prior approval from the FDA of the Philippines before vaccination is implemented.
“Yung medical issue involved dito kung safe po yung vaccine. At ‘yan naman po ay tututukan ng FDA dahil bagamat meron pong registration ng mga bakuna na makukuha sa kanilang home countries, kinakailangan pag-aralan pa rin po dito ‘yan sa Pilipinas ng ating FDA (The medical issue involved is whether the vaccines are safe. The FDA will pay attention to this because even if the vaccine is registered in their home countries, it also needs to be studied by the FDA of the Philippines),” he said.
Distribution of effort
Galvez, who admitted that he was “nervous” to take on a huge responsibility, said that his role was to ensure that there is a “distribution of effort” among all concerned agencies.
“Ang akin pong trabaho bilang designated vaccine czar ito po’y tinatawag na milestone gatekeeper or integrator or synchronizer ng lahat ng mga agencies (My job as designated vaccine czar is what you call milestone gatekeeper or integrator or synchronizer of all agencies),” he said.
Galvez said his role is to “unburden” the DOH and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) from administrative work.
“It is better na isang tao ang mag-synchronize kasi po ang DOH o taga [Department of Science and Technology] ang magagawa po nito ay magkakaroon ng tinatawag na madi-dilute po yung kanilang mga activity na napaka importante po sa scientific evaluation at selection at saka po yung tinatawag na implementation ng nationwide vaccination (for one person to synchronize because it would help dilute their activity which is very important because they’re in charge of scientific evaluation and selection and the implementation of nationwide vaccination),” he said.
He said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would still be the primary person in charge of overseeing vaccine implementation.
“As chief implementer, ang boss ko pa rin po si DOH Secretary considering si DOH Secretary is IATF Chairman. Kung ano yung policy niya pertaining sa (my boss is DOH Secretary considering the DOH Secretary is IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] chairman. His policy pertaining to the) vaccine will be implemented by me,” he said.
Galvez, a former general, also said his military expertise would also be an advantage as it would enable him to easily coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Yung pagiging military chief ko mas madali po ‘yan na coordination sa PNP at saka sa AFP…Malaki pong tulong yun kasi kayang-kaya i-integrate ang lahat na mga (My being military chief will mean easier coordination with PNP and AFP. It will be a big help because we can easily integrate all) logistical requirements that we have,” he said.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he designated Galvez as vaccine czar to ensure that the Philippines has access to a potential vaccine once available.
“Pagbili ng bakuna, the negotiation, manufacture, production, or distribution, binigay ko yan kay (In the purchase of the vaccine, the negotiation, manufacture, production or distribution, I gave it to) Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever,” he said. (PNA)