MANILA, Philippines — The government has completed all documents needed to acquire COVID-19 vaccines developed by American drug maker Pfizer and is just waiting for the delivery of the pandemic jabs, Malacañang said Sunday.
The first batch of Pfizer vaccines that were acquired through the COVAX facility was supposed to arrive last month but it was delayed because of talks related to an indemnification agreement. Officials now expect the first batch of Pfizer jabs, which will consist of 117,000 doses, to arrive within the second quarter.
"We have done everything that we have to do. We have signed all the documents that were given to us. It's just a matter of waiting for Pfizer to deliver the vaccine. Let's just wait," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told radio station dzBB.
Nograles, also the co-chairman of the government's pandemic task force, said the administration is negotiating with different parties for the vaccine procurement given the supply limitations. He noted that the government has also secured vaccines manufactured by Chinese drug maker Sinovac and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. The government will also negotiate with the Serum Institute of India for the procurement of Novavax jabs and additional AstraZeneca shots.
"What is good about our vaccine roll-out plan is we are not dependent on just one brand. We understood early on that there are supply concerns worldwide," Nograles said.
"We are not just dependent on western countries. We are also looking at Asian countries," he added.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. previously said the bulk of Pfizer vaccines may not arrive in the Philippines anytime soon because of high demand.
Nograles thanked Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez for his efforts to secure vaccines, noting that Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have committed to allocate supplies to the Philippines.
"These two brands are included in the seven brands we are looking at. More brands may be added…We have a good mix because we have western and Asian brands. As the whole world is scrambling for supplies, we have talked to some parties," the Cabinet secretary said in Filipino.
A total of 600,000 doses of Sinovac jabs and 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca shots were turned over to the Philippines last week. Another 38,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines that were acquired through the COVAX facility were expected to arrive last night.
Nograles assured the public that the vaccine priority list would be followed during the roll-out of the AstraZeneca shots. He said the inclusion of non-medical personnel during the start of the vaccination program, including some high-ranking officials, was just a "miscommunication."
We're really sticking to the priority list. We have a good set-up and we have the NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group)… and they recommend to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) who should be prioritized. Whatever the NITAG recommends, we stick to it," he said.
"I don't want to preempt the results of the investigation but like I said before… based on the preliminary assessment, it seems that there was a (miscommunication) but there was no intention to jump the line but we're sticking to that queue," he added.
Under the government's priority list, medical frontliners should be the first to be immunized, followed by senior citizens, frontline personnel in essential sectors, indigent population, other government workers, other essential workers, socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people, overseas Filipino workers, other remaining work force, and the rest of the Filipino population.
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