Philippine president signs law to speed up COVID-19 vaccine rollout

MANILA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on Friday a bill that speeds up the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines in the Southeast Asian country.

The new law or COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 also creates a national indemnity fund to compensate any person inoculated in case of death, permanent disability, or hospital confinement due to serious adverse events.

"We are confident that the signing of this landmark piece of legislation would expedite the procurement and administration of vaccines for the protection against COVID-19," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Roque did not go into the details of the new law.

But he said the law "covers the creation of an indemnity fund to cover compensation for those who would experience serious adverse effects to the vaccine."

"Indeed, we remain committed in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and we are using necessary means, such as the enactment of this (law), certified urgent by (Duterte), as a way to start our vaccine rollout," Roque said.

(Photo: agencies)

The Philippines aims to kick off the coronavirus vaccine rollout next week using Sinovac vaccines donated by China due to arrive on Sunday.

The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year, starting with health care workers and soldiers. The elderly and the poor communities are next in the priority list.

The Philippines has so far reported 571,327 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 12,247 deaths.