MANILA – The government will disclose the coronavirus vaccines’ price list to the public once negotiations are done, National Task Force Against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Sec. Vince Dizon said on Monday.

‘Di pa panahon! Vince Dizon: Prices of COVID-19 vaccines to be revealed after talks

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MANILA – The government will disclose the coronavirus vaccines’ price list to the public once negotiations are done, National Task Force Against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Sec. Vince Dizon said on Monday.

Dizon, also the country’s testing czar, said the government has various ongoing talks with vaccine developers.

“When these negotiations have been concluded, then these issues such as price [and] volumes will be disclosed to the general public, so I think, we all just really need to keep our eyes on the ball and focus on ensuring that we have access to the very, very limited supply in the global market,” Dizon said during an interview over ANC.

“But the prices will be transparently disclosed at the time when the negotiations are done,” Dizon added. “As you very well know, Secretary [Carlito] Galvez has repeatedly said that he is bound by this confidentiality agreement with all vaccine manufacturers, not just Sinovac, all of them require confidentiality agreements while negotiations are taking place.”

Once negotiations end and terms are finalized, Dizon assured that all the details of the negotiations will be disclosed to the public.

“There’s so much information coming out, some accurate, some are not so just have to be really careful like what vaccine czar has repeatedly said and what he is committed to [do], is to ensure that we have adequate supply and also these negotiations are going to be transparent,” he said.

Access to vaccine supply

Dizon emphasized that the government is committed to providing all Filipinos with safe and effective vaccines.

“Right now, the main goal is to be sure that given the limited supply of vaccine throughout the world, we can access the supply from different vaccine manufacturers,” he said.

The government has ongoing negotiations with seven pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, Gamaleya, and Novavax.

“These seven vaccine companies have been recommended initially by the vaccine expert panel for the government to begin the negotiation with to ensure that we have the supply,” said Dizon.

The government’s goal is to get advanced access to vaccine jabs given its limited supply, he said.

“So that, when the time comes that all of these vaccines whether all of them or some of them have been approved by the panel of experts in the country and our FDA [Food and Drug Administration], we will be ready to purchase them and administer them to the priority sectors and the general public,” Dizon added.

Vaccination plan

In the government’s plan to combat the pandemic, Dizon said there is a need to adopt a decentralized approach.

“Meaning, we need to employ and we need to utilize all available resources not just from the national government, but from the local government units (LGUs), as well as the private sector,” he said. “This I think was the major reason why our testing capacity was drastically improved after the initial challenges early on, in March, April, and May of last year.”

Dizon said the government will do the same clear policy of a whole-of-nation approach to involve every stakeholder in the rollout of the vaccination campaign.

The government, LGUs, and the private sector are working together for the implementation of the national immunization program, he said.

Dizon said the vaccination program will be done through a prioritization scheme.

“This is part of the equitable distribution of a very very limited supply of vaccine throughout the world,” he added.

Dizon said the government is currently coordinating with the private sector and LGUs to utilize all available assets and resources for the vaccination rollout, to ensure the swift vaccination of as many Filipinos as much possible.

The initial vaccination program might start by the third or fourth week of February, Dizon said. (PNA)

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POLITIKO / Latest News

Chinese cyber-espionage unit on US hacking spree: report

At least 30,000 US organizations including local governments have been hacked in recent days by an “unusually aggressive” Chinese cyber-espionage campaign, according to a computer security specialist.

The campaign has exploited recently discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange software, stealing email and infecting computer servers with tools that let attackers take control remotely, Brian Krebs said in a post at his cyber security news website.

“This is an active threat,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said when asked about the situation during a press briefing.

“Everyone running these servers needs to act now to patch them. We are concerned that there are a large number of victims,” she added.

After Microsoft released patches for the vulnerabilities on Tuesday, attacks “dramatically stepped up” on servers not yet updated with security fixes, said Krebs, who cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

“At least 30,000 organizations across the United States — including a significant number of small businesses, towns, cities and local governments — have over the past few days been hacked by an unusually aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit that’s focused on stealing email from victim organizations,” Krebs wrote in the post.

He reported that insiders said hackers have “seized control” of thousands of computer systems around the world using password-protected software tools slipped into systems.

Microsoft said early this week that a state-sponsored hacking group operating out of China is exploiting previously unknown security flaws in its Exchange email services to steal data from business users.

The company said the hacking group, which it has named “Hafnium,” is a “highly skilled and sophisticated actor.”

Hafnium has in the past targeted US-based companies including infectious disease researchers, law firms, universities, defense contractors, think tanks, and NGOs.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Microsoft executive Tom Burt said the company had released updates to fix the security flaws, which apply to on-premises versions of the software rather than cloud-based versions, and urged customers to apply them.

“We know that many nation-state actors and criminal groups will move quickly to take advantage of any unpatched systems,” he added at the time.

Microsoft said the group was based in China but operated through leased virtual private servers in the United States, and that it had briefed the US government.

Beijing has previously hit back at US accusations of state-sponsored cyber theft. Last year it accused Washington of smears following allegations that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus research.

In January, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies said Russia was probably behind the massive SolarWinds hack that shook the government and corporate security, contradicting then-president Donald Trump, who had suggested China could be to blame.

Microsoft said Tuesday the Hafnium attacks “were in no way connected to the separate SolarWinds-related attacks.” (AFP)

Werpa si Eba! Lord Velasco recognizes women’s role in nation building

By Billy Begas

Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco pays tribute to all Filipina for their pivotal role in nation-building even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Allow me to recognize all the strong, empowered and empowering women of the House. Kinaya at kinakaya natin ang laban sa pandemya because you kept everything steady here at work even as you faced the challenges with your families at home,” said Velasco.

At present, women make up 48 percent of the House workforce.

Records from the chamber’s Human Resource Management Service show that out of the 4,037 members and employees of the House, 1,941 are women. Of which, 85 are legislators, 649 are Secretariat employees, 940 are congressional staff members, and 267 are co-terminus and contractual workers.

The House has eight female deputy speakers namely Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon), Loren Legarda (Antique), Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon party-list), Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur), Divina Grace Yu (Zamboanga del Sur), Camille Villar (Las Piñas City), Rose Marie Arenas (Pangasinan), and Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas).

After Velasco’s election as Speaker in October 2020, the House elected a female Secretary General—Atty. Jocelia Bighani Sipin.

Sipin spearheaded the House Secretariat through a period of transition from October 12 to November 18 last year. She is currently the Deputy Secretary General assigned at the Office of the Speaker.

On March 8, female lawmakers will take full control of the plenary session as part of the annual tradition in the legislative chamber to mark the National Women’s Month and the International Women’s Day.

The all-women session will be led by Deputy Speaker Arenas, president of the Association of Women Legislators Foundation Inc. of the 18th Congress.

The plenary is set to adopt resolutions congratulating two Filipino-American appointees of United States President Joe Biden—Gloria Steele and Camille Calimlim Touton.

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