The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has reportedly allotted P5 million to be taken from the unspent funds of the Balik Happy Island Program for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
In a separate report, Gov. Joseph Cua said the money would not be enough for all the people of the island so the priority would be health frontliners and capitol employees.
The recent Senate hearings on the vaccine issue disclosed the following prices of available vaccines (two doses each, inclusive of 12% VAT and 10% inflation rate): Astra Zeneca, P610; Novavax, P366; Pfizer, P2,379; Moderna, P3,904-P4,504; Sinovac, P3,629.50; Gaamaleya, P1,220; and. Covax, P854.
Assuming that the province would buy the cheapest US-made vaccine, Astra Zeneca, the initial funding would be good for only 8,000 individuals, including the 626 permanent capitol employees, 13 elective officials, and nearly 2,500 job order or contract of service casuals. The excess would probably be given to health personnel at the district hospitals and rural health units.
The final choice would be likely determined by the availability of appropriate refrigeration equipment, since the Pfizer vaccine requires it be kept frozen at -71°C.
The Astra Zeneca vaccine requires storage and shipping at -20° while the Moderna’s version can be kept at 2°C to 8°C for 30 days.
Dr. Angel Albert Lamban said that the Provincial Health Office has a chest-type freezer but its limited capacity and the high possibility of unannounced brownouts should be taken into consideration. Ordinary freezers, he bared, cannot maintain the required temperatures.
Another roadblock in the Capitol plan to purchase its own vaccines is that the process involving the tripartite agreement between the LGU, the national government and the supplier could take a longer time compared to just waiting for the national government to send Catanduanes’ vaccine allocation.
To bolster its contact tracing effort and implement stricter border controls, the province is reportedly implementing the QR code system for would-be travelers to the island by February.
Insiders, however, say that it would probably be started a week later to allow an information dissemination campaign to thoroughly educate the people on its use. The province is also waiting for the procurement of the needed laptops that would be used by trained personnel at the entry points at the two ports of Virac and San Andres, and at the Virac airport.
A copy of the online system was given to the province for free by the city of Baguio, whose chief executive, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, has been named contact tracing czar. A number of EOC-IMT personnel have been sent to the summer capital for training.
My appreciation and gratitude goes to the countless people who sent birthday greetings on Jan. 21, especially those who took the trouble to personally take part in a low-key celebration (the venue at the garage was half-full) including the six members of our monthly sociedad, close relatives and four members of the Catanduanes Island Media Club.
Among the notables who posted greetings on Viber and social media were Gov. Joseph Cua, Atty. Santiago Gabionza Jr., Mayor Peter Cua, Atty. Jorge Sarmiento, retired DE Ignacio Odiaman, Cong. Jose Teves Jr., and probably more, the names of which would be too many to accommodate on this space.
There were some who sent gifts but begged off from attending the gathering.
Gracias, mi amigos!
WASTING HIS TIME. An old timer was sitting on his New England porch when a young man walked up holding a pen and clipboard.
“What are you selling, son?” asked the old man.
“I’m not selling anything. I’m the census taker.”
“The census taker. We’re trying to find out how many people there are in the United States.”
“You’re wasting your time with me,” said the old man. “I have no idea.”