PASIG CITY — The government is optimistic it would be able to start inoculating the general population by August with the expected arrival of the bulk of its anti-COVID vaccine orders within the second and third quarter of this year.
“By August, dadagsa na ang [vaccine] supply..By that time, nakuha na natin ang priority sectors,” Sec. Carlito G. Galvez Jr, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine said during a virtual press briefing on Thursday, April 29.

According to Galvez, the country expects to receive around 140 million doses of anti-COVID vaccines within the year, excluding those coming from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility which are scheduled to arrive in the country not later than June.

He explained that out of the 44 million doses coming from COVAX, 33 million doses are donations, while the government paid $100-M for the remaining 11 million doses.

Stable supply by June
“Bubuhos po ang ating vaccines this June, mga 9 to 10 million [doses]. Lahat ng orders din natin darating ng July, August hanggang sa huling buwan,” he said.

“’Pag nagkaroon po ng full vaccination program, makaka-vaccinate tayo ng 500,000 a [day],” Galvez added.

The chief implementer said that the country’s vaccination rate could increase from 500,000 to 1 million per week in May, and rise to around 2 to 3 million per week by July or August depending on the actual number of doses delivered to the country.

The government is currently carrying out the simultaneous vaccination of the AI, A2 and A3 priority sectors.

From March to April, 1,065,728 health care workers received their first jabs, while 246,986 have been administered their second doses.

On the other hand, 240,221 senior citizens have been inoculated, while 256,866 individuals with co-morbidities have been immunized.

To date, 1,562,815 Filipinos have been vaccinated, while a total of 1,809,801 vaccine doses have been administered.

Of the 3,525,600 vaccine doses in the government’s supply inventory, 85.81% or 3,025,600 doses have been deployed throughout the country.

These vaccines include the 2 million government procured CoronaVac doses, 1 million CoronaVac doses donated by the Chinese government, and the 525,600 doses coming from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility.

In his presentation, Galvez reported that the country has already received all the 1.5 million anti-COVID shots it has ordered from Sinovac for the month of April with arrival of 500,000 CoronaVac doses today.

By next month, he said the government expects the delivery of 2 million Sinovac doses by May 7, and 2 million doses from Russia-based Gamaleya.

For June, Galvez said the country stands to receive a total of 10,349,210 vaccine doses, which include 194,000 doses from Moderna, 4.5 million doses from Sinovac, 2 million doses from Gamaleya, 1.3 million doses from AstraZeneca (private sector-procured), and 2,355,210 Pfizer doses from the COVAX facility.

He said that for July, 13.5 million vaccine doses are scheduled to arrive in the Philippines. These include 3 million doses from Sinovac, 4 million doses from Gamaleya, 1 million doses from Moderna, 2 million doses from Novavax, 1.5 million doses from J&J, and 2 million doses from AstraZeneca.

Galvez said that the country is set to receive 15 to 20 million vaccine doses per month starting August up until December of this year, which if sustained, would enable the country to achieve herd immunity by 2021.

Contingency measures

Meanwhile, the vaccine czar said that the government has put in place “layers of contingencies” in case the second doses of AstraZeneca vaccines do not arrive in the country on time.

Around 500,000 AstraZeneca doses were scheduled to be delivered to the Philippines in early March but was postponed due to supply issues confronting the WHO.

Galvez said the government is now considering several options which include sourcing the vaccines from either Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom which reportedly have excess supplies.

He said the members of the NTF’s vaccine cluster are set to meet with US Embassy officials in Manila to discuss the possibility of procuring the country’s excess AstraZeneca doses.

“Pwede manggaling sa Israel, meron na tayong letter of intent sa kanila. Meron na rin sa US na letter of intent for 3M [doses], we’ve also written to UK and we’re waiting for their response. Pero don’t worry, may assurance [ang Gavi] darating ‘yan,” he said.

In the meantime Galvez clarified that the postponed delivery of 15,000 doses of Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccines on April 28 were largely due to “logistical challenges.”

“’Yung logistical challenges ay flight restrictions na nakita natin. Gusto kasi nila di bulto, magka-pilot run muna considering very critical ang temperature niya (Sputnik V),” he said.

Galvez said that negotiations are ongoing for the 10 million doses the government intends to purchase from Gamaleya, in which the vaccines will be delivered in tranches within a period of four months. ###