Around three million coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the Philippines by the end of February this year after successful negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and with the COVAX facility, the country’s vaccine czar said Monday night.
“At natutuwa po kami at natutuwa po ‘yung mga LGU na they will receive ‘yung 117,000 na COVAX Pfizer and also more or less 5.5 million to 9.2 million po na AstraZeneca,” Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said in his report to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a public address on government’s COVID-19 interventions.
“Ang rollout po nito is mid- or last week of February. Kaya po mayroon po tayong at least mga more or less na aasahan na three million doses this coming February po, sir.”
At the same time, Galvez said Philippines has already signed five term sheets and is now preparing for the finalization of contracts by mid-February.
Galvez noted that the country’s first vaccine rollout has been made possible with the help of COVAX facility, a global alliance that aims to provide poor countries opportunities to vaccinate their population against the deadly coronavirus.
“Dahil po noong nag-submit po tayo ng ating recommendations sa COVAX noong January 18, pinirmahan po namin ni Secretary Duque na tayo po ay mag-a-apply ng COVAX facility na for early rollout,” he noted.
Apart from assisting the Philippines with its first vaccine rollout, Galvez said the COVAX facility has also made commitment to provide 117,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for the country’s health workers.
All in all, the COVAX facility has committed enough vaccine doses to cover 20 percent of the Philippine population, which is roughly 40 million doses, said Galvez.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is negotiating a second quarter rollout of vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, according to the country’s vaccine czar.
The Philippines’s full rollout of vaccines, however, will be on the third and fourth quarter of this year with the government facilitating the release of around 30 to 50 million doses per quarter, he added, noting manufacturers expressed willingness for an early rollout and distribution in the second quarter. The rollout also includes the Serum Institute of India.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who was also present during the meeting, said the country is pursuing three financial approaches in the vaccine procurement — multilateral approach, private sector partnership, and local government units (LGUs) tie-up.
The government’s multilateral approach has an available fund of $1.38 billion to be provided by the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Dominguez said.
This is in addition to the available money for the vaccines through agreements with suppliers or with COVAX, he added.
These methods will fund the procurement of a total of 106 million doses amounting to $1.2 million, the finance chief said, adding the government also secured 40 million doses from COVAX.
Dominguez said the Philippines expects to acquire up to 148 million doses of vaccines to immunize around 76 million adults or more than 100 percent of the country’s adult population. He added that those aged 18 years old and below aren’t qualified for inoculation.
President Duterte said that among the first to be inoculated should be healthcare workers, government frontliners, uniformed personnel, poor population and other vulnerable sectors of society.
Individuals belonging to the country’s priority sectors and institutions are also in the priority list and may receive the jab in the second quarter. They include economic frontliners and laborers such as drivers, food industry workers, social service workers, and life support service workers, among others.
Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Sinovac are among the pharmaceutical companies that Philippines is negotiating with to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 1,658 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 527,272 with 487,574 recoveries and 10,807 deaths. PND