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MANILA – Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles has emphasized the need to extend the effect of Republic Act No. 11494, or the so-called “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” as the law might lapse before an effective COVID-19 vaccine is developed and becomes available to the public.

According to Nograles, the Bayahinan 2 Act must be extended until December 2022 to ensure the continuity of essential response and recovery interventions with respect to the coronavirus vaccine and procurement must not be bogged down due to lack of funding.

Nograles noted that before any fund is disbursed for any government procurement, it must be covered by a pertinent appropriation by Congress.

In the case of RA 11494, the procurement of COVID-19 medication and vaccine has been determined to lapse three months after December 19, 2020.

Under Nograles’ House Bill No. 8017, Bayanihan 2 will be further extended until December 21, 2022—by then, COVID-19 medication and vaccine has been fully rolled out for public use.

“The goal of equitable and immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine must be ascertained,” Nograles, representative of PBA Party-list said.

He stressed that while there are pharmaceutical companies who have declared that they are already in the advanced stage in their research to develop an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, it might take la while before these can be administered for mass inoculation.

For good measure, Nograles said the government must have continuous access to funding to ensure that the Philippines will have the money to buy the vaccine without the need of enacting a new law.

RA 11494 was enacted in anticipation of the commercial availability of the vaccines by the end of 2020.

Nograles explained that many potential COVID-19 vaccines, to date, are still going through the three-stage clinical trial process and the results are expected to be reported by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

“After the clinical trials, the results must be verified and approved by regulatory agencies before any large-scale production and commercial distribution of vaccine in the market may commence,” he added.

He said that “while waiting for a safe COVID-19 vaccine, there is a necessity to extend the validity of paragraphs (d), (s) and (cc) of Section 4 and Section 12 of the ‘Bayanihan to Recover As One Act’ until December 31, 2022 to ensure the continuity of the essential COVID-19 response and recovery interventions.” (JCC)

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