State-owned trading arm Philippine International Trading Corp. (PTC) has been tapped to procure the COVID-19 vaccines as early as before the end of this year as the government pursues negotiations with foreign manufacturers.

Ramon Lopez - PITC to procure COVID-19 vaccines
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon  M. Lopez said during the Malacanang Laging Handa press briefing that Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the Philippines’ Declared National Policy Against COVID-19, informed him Sunday night (Nov. 8, 2020) of the possibility to start the first batch of vaccines before the end of the year.

 This means, Lopez said, that government agencies are continuously looking at the selection and procurement of the vaccines. The Department of Budget and Management and PITC are involved in this effort. He said the PITC, where he is chairperson, has been tapped to execute the purchase of the vaccines.

He said Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena and Galvez are talking to different companies through bilateral arrangements. He also cited lots of clinical trials ad tests being conducted as part of the ongoing R&D of the manufacturing firms that include the Russian manufacturer of the Sputnik 5 Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Meantime, Lopez said they were meeting this afternoon, Nov. 9, with stakeholders on the price range for COVID-19 tests. The suggested retail prices of RT PCR tests may be released within the week, he said.

The Department of Health is setting the guidelines while the DTI will work on the SRP or price range for these tests.

For the SRP on Noche Buena products, Lopez said his agency is expected to announce the brands that will not increase their prices by tomorrow (Nov. 10). He said most of the brands have committed not to raise prices except for one fruit cocktail brand that they are still trying to convince.

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