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Ex-VP Binay on COVID-19 vaccine shortage: 'Let's tap the private sector'

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: ABS-CBN News

For former Vice President Jejomar Binay, it is about time for the government to tap the private sector in order to address the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and to "vaccinate as many workers in the fastest way possible."

Binay's remark comes after the Department of Health (DOH) earlier admitted that the country has an insufficient supply of vaccines to be administered to medical frontliners, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities. 

"DOH admits we don’t have enough vaccines. We need 24 million additional doses and at the moment we do not have enough," said Binay in a tweet on Friday. 

"This is frustrating news for businessmen and workers. But there is a solution: Let’s tap the private sector. Allow them to buy more vaccines for their employees. Let them vaccinate their people for free," the human rights lawyer added. 

He underscored that the government should find ways to incentivize the vaccination initiative by "giving them tax breaks once a 100% workforce immunization is achieved" and "allowing the workers to go on paid leaves to get vaccinated."

"Government should also find ways to incentivize vaccination. It should look at all available means to achieve one goal: vaccinate as many workers in the fastest way possible," Binay said. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday welcomed the shipment of an additional 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2. 

As of May 12, the country has so far received more than 7.7 million vaccine doses, of which 5 million were from the Beijing-based pharmaceutical company. Some 2.5 million doses were from AstraZeneca and 193,000 were from Pfizer.

The country has so far over 3.2 million doses administered, of which 786,000 have been fully vaccinated, and some 2.5 million receiving the first dose.

As of Friday, May 21, the Department of Health reported 1,171,403 total COVID-19 infections, 1,096,109 recoveries, 19,763 deaths including 55,531 active cases.