By Arvin Gaudiel, JD1 and Christian Rodriguez, JD1
As early as December 2019, the WHO reported the onset of symptoms of a new decease spreading in Wuhan, China. According to the CDC, this new virus, was much more infectious than the common influenza, and those infected with it could remain contagious for a much longer time, and more people would develop deadlier complications due to this virus, as compared to the common flu virus. We now know this virus as COVID 19.
COVID 19 is unlike any virus seen in the recent decade. It is a pandemic that has stopped governments, adversely affected the world economy, and caused over four million deaths. As of writing, according to worldometers.info, two hundred and twenty one countries and territories have reported a total of 231,915,321 confirmed cases, and a death toll of 4,751,585 people. There were those that viewed the pandemic as apocalyptic, with Dr. Asha M. George, executive director, Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, and Science and Security Board member, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, even saying “Humanity continues to suffer as COVID-19 spreads around the world. In 2020 alone, this novel disease killed 1.7 million people and sickened at least 70 million more. The pandemic reveals just how unprepared and unwilling countries and the international system are to handle global emergencies properly.”
According to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, the first suspected case in the Philippines was investigated on January 22, 2020, and 633 suspected cases were reported as of March 1, just over a month after the first suspected case. As of writing, there are 2,453,328 cases, and 37,405 deaths recorded in the Philippines
The WHO stated “it’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic, it’s vaccination. We must ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines, and ensure every country receives them and can roll them out to protect their people, starting with the most vulnerable.” In that spirit, thus this act was entered in to law.
RA 11525: Highlights and Salient Points:
RA 11525 is “an Act establishing the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID 19) Vaccination Program expediting the vaccine procurement and administration process, providing funds therefore and other purposes.” It was signed into law on February twenty six, 2021. It was enacted in the hopes of countering the adverse effects of COVID 19 through a state policy of mass vaccination that would eventually lead to herd immunity. To this end, Section 2 outlined four objectives for this republic act. The are as follows:
“(a) Address the adverse impact of COVID-19 through the procurement and administration of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the National Government through the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) and other duly constituted authorities and instrumentalities;
(b) Source and procure through the DOH and the NTF, either through themselves jointly or in cooperation with any national government agency or instrumentality or local government unit (LGU), safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines;
(c) Recognize the experimental nature of COVID-19 vaccines available in the market and compensate any serious adverse effects (SAEs) arising from the use of COVID-19 vaccine, experienced by people inoculated through the COVID-19 Vaccination Program; and
(d) Creation of a COVID-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund to be administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to compensate persons encountering SAE pursuant to the preceding paragraph.”
The law states that inoculation is not determinant are fit or unfit for work. This will allay the fears brought up by organized labor groups, especially those who are opposing the adoption of a “no vaccine, no work” policy
For these objectives to be met, Section 3 of this act authorizes the DOH and the NTF to procure COVID 19 vaccines “either through themselves jointly or in cooperation with any national government agency or instrumentality or LGU. Section 4 of this act also authorizes LGU’s (provinces, cities and municipalities) to procure vaccines, provided that they are in cooperation with the DOH and the NTF and that these LGUs shall procure no more than seventy-five percent (75%) of their target population for vaccination, although this cap may be adjusted by the Iner-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) when there is sufficient supply of vaccines as determined by DOH and the NTF. This act also authorizes Private entities to procure the vaccine, provided that they are also in cooperation with the DOH and the NTF. Section 5 also outlines that vaccines procured by private entities. shall be for the sole and exclusive use of such companies, without prejudice to the multiparty agreement: Provided, That priority in the inoculation shall be given to its healthcare workers, senior citizens, economic front liners, and essential workers.
Another salient point of this act is Section 10, which establishes the COVID-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund. It is established as a trust fund to compensate any person inoculated through the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, in case of death, permanent disability or hospital confinement for any serious adverse effects. For this purpose, the amount of Five hundred million pesos (P500,000,000.00) is authorized by this act to augment the funds of PhilHealth.
It has been roughly only over eight months sice this act has been signed into law, but already, with data as provided by ourworldindata.org, the government has already given 43.1 million doses of the vaccine, with 19.7 million Filipinos already fully vaccinated which is 18.2% of the population. Again, in the span of February 2021 up to the writing of this article (September 25, 2021), 18.2% of the total population has already been fully vaccinated. A visual representation of this data is amazing and is as follows:
Reuters has stated in their website that “COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Philippines, with 17,517 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 82% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on September 15.”
As stated by Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr in an interview regarding the 41,247,552 doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines nationwide as of September 18, 2021 “This is a testament that our vaccination program is on track and is continuously scaling up despite the multiple challenges we have faced in the past weeks”
As of Oct. 1 2021 a total of 45,601,096 doses of COVID vaccines has been administered with almost 25 million Filipinos completed vaccination with a rate of 4.28/second or about 369,953 each day.