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Davao City aims to vaccinate 1.2 million citizens, in talks with AstraZeneca

Davao City is targeting to vaccinate 1.2 million of its population within two years and is in talks with British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to secure vaccine doses, the Mayor Sara Duterte told Rappler on Friday, January 8.

"The Davao City government target is 1.2 million of the population on a voluntary vaccination program that will run for one to two years, depending on how fast the vaccines may become available," said the mayor.

The target corresponds to roughly 75% of the Mindanao city's population, based on the 2015 national census showing it has a population of 1.6 million.

In line with this target, City Hall is in talks with AstraZeneca, which previously entered into tripartite deals with Quezon City, Philippine private firms, and the national government for its COVID-19 vaccine. (TRACKER: Which COVID-19 vaccines are being eyed by the Philippines?)

"We had a successful discussion with AstraZeneca that is covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement," said Mayor Duterte, eldest daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte.

'Unrestricted' budget

While several Philippine cities have already allocated specific funds for vaccine procurement in their 2021 budgets, Duterte, when asked if her city had made similar allocations, said their budget for this was "unrestricted."

Instead of setting an amount already, she said the allocation would depend on how much it would take to reach their target of 1.2 million vaccinated Davao City residents.

"The budget is unrestricted and the ceiling is to achieve the target population," she said.

Funds for the vaccines would be sourced from a combination of the 2021 annual budget and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office funds.

"We will acquire as many as we may be allowed to buy from companies that will be issued an EUA," the mayor said.

An Emergency Use Authorization, to be issued by the Food and Drug Administration, allows the administering of a vaccine among identified vulnerable sectors.

The cith chief previously said some Davao City businessmen had expressed willingness to donate funds to the city government for vaccine doses.

Mayor Duterte and the City Council agreed that City Hall would acquire a mix of vaccines to prepare for the likelihood that pharmaceutical firms will have different delivery times given the limitations in vaccine production.

Buying various kinds of vaccines, said Duterte, would also ensure that if some of the vaccines lead to certain side effects, these side effects would not affect the entire vaccinated group.

Davao City's battle vs COVID-19

Davao City has topped the list of cities with the highest spike in daily new cases in the last 14 days, as of Thursday, January 7, according to the Department of Health. The Mindanao hub beat Quezon City, the most populous city in pandemic epicenter Metro Manila.

This shows a persistence in a worrying trend, as a December 21 study by the Octa Research Group had also showed Davao City in second place among local governments with the most number of new cases per day.

Meanwhile, Davao Region (Region XI) was reported to have a 51% utilization rate of its COVID-19 beds, thus nearing the 60% mark indicating "moderate risk" in terms of how much of the region's healthcare facilities would be available for patients. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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