Gov’t may start vaccinating general public by August, says Galvez

The general public may have to wait until August before they can receive anti-coronavirus vaccines as the government expects a steady supply of Covid-19 jabs in the following months, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.

In a televised briefing, Galvez said the inoculation of essential workers, the poor, as well as those listed in the B1, B2, and B3 priority sectors, may begin in the third quarter of the year.

“We are targeting to vaccinate the general public by August as more vaccines arrive,” Galvez said.

Earlier in the day, 500,000 procured vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 via Cebu Pacific flight 5J671.

The shots would be brought to the MetroPac facility in Marikina before being distributed all over the country, Galvez said.

Additional 15,000 vaccine doses from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute were expected to arrive on May 1, while 1.5 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech would be shipped on May 7.

In June, additional 194,000 vaccine doses from Moderna, 4.5 million doses from Sinovac, 2 million doses from Gamaleya, and 1.3 million doses from AstraZeneca were expected to be delivered.

The Philippines would also receive 2.3 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses “not later than June” from global-vaccine sharing pool COVAX Facility, Galvez said.

“We were given a letter from COVAX and Gavi that we will receive 2,355,210 Pfizer doses,” he said.

His announcement came after an initial February delivery of 117,000 Pfizer doses was postponed due to the Philippines’ lack of indemnification law.

The country is negotiating for additional 40 million jabs from the American firm for procurement, he added.

While he cannot determine the exact date of the vaccine arrival, Galvez said Pfizer and the government were finalizing a deal on legal immunity and indemnity funds should recipients experience adverse effects after their inoculation.

“Pfizer is very cordial, kind. Even though we had legal challenges, they did not change their offer to us. Pfizer has one of the lowest prices, next to AstraZeneca. Its price for us is very good,” he added.

In July, Galvez said 13.5 million vaccine doses from various manufacturers, namely, Sinovac, Gamaleya, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, would be shipped to the country.

Given the steady supply of vaccines, Galvez said the government is aiming to vaccinate two to three million individuals weekly from June to July.

The country is also expecting up to 20 million vaccine doses each in August and September, the official added.

The Philippines has so far received 4.025 million vaccine doses, of which 2.5 million doses were procured.

Over 1.8 million Filipino health workers, senior citizens, and those with chronic illnesses have been vaccinated so far against Covid-19 since the March rollout. Of these, 246,986 individuals were fully-vaccinated or those who received two doses.

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