PASIG CITY (17 SEPTEMBER 2021)— The Philippines expects to receive 190,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines (Component 2) by the weekend or early next week, according to Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar.

“This shipment of Sputnik V vaccines shall be used for the second dose. After this, we will be receiving the single-shot Sputnik V Light as we move forward with our vaccine rollout,” Galvez said on Friday.

The vaccine czar also eased concerns among those who have already received their first dose of Sputnik V.

“As per our vaccine experts from the Department of Health, the gap between first and second doses of Sputnik V can be as long as six months, so no need to worry because the vaccines are arriving soon,” Galvez explained.

This September, the country expects to receive the first batch of government-procured Sputnik V Light vaccines consisting of 1 million doses.

“The Sputnik V Light is more efficient because we will be able to protect more people faster. This would eliminate the problem wherein people fail to return for their second dose,” Galvez noted.

As of September 15, the country has received a total of 57,547,610 vaccine doses from various manufacturers, of which over 36 million doses were procured by the national government.

The country has also breached the 40 million mark in terms of COVID-19 jabs administered, with 40,030,388 shots given as of September 15.

This number is composed of 17,675,959 fully-vaccinated individuals and 22,354,429 who have already received their first dose.

Over 39 million doses are expected to arrive this September, with 5,647,020 doses already delivered to the country from September 1 to 15.

Caring for the healthcare workers

During the President’s Talk to the People address aired on Thursday morning, Galvez reported the results of his dialogues with the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine College of Surgeons, and other health professionals held over the weekend.

Among the key issues raised by doctors which they want the national government to address are the fast-tracking of Philhealth reimbursement to hospitals; procurement of more doses of anti-inflammatory drug Tocilizumab; provision of enough oxygen cylinders; living quarters for healthcare workers during the granular lockdown; immediate approval of the establishment of oxygen production plants in major hospitals; additional van reefer for cadavers, and; implementation of the quadrant/sectoring concept of COVID-19 referral hospitals.

Galvez also recommended to the President the need to immediately act on the hospitals’ request for more doctors, nurses, and other health-related personnel.

“Mister President, ito po talaga ‘yung kailangan nating ma-solve, dahil lahat ng ospital, ang kanilang idinadaing ay talagang kulang po sila ng doktor, nurses and other related health workers,” Galvez said.

“Ako po ay natutuwa dahil they are committed. Even though they are tired, makikita mo na ang ating Filipino doctors very dedicated po,” he added.

President Duterte took note of Galvez’s suggestions, as he acknowledged the need to beef up the country’s health frontliners.

“We will see what we can do. We will try to look for the money to have more recruits joining this fight against COVID,” Duterte said.

For his part, Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) chair and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, reported on the allowances already disbursed to healthcare workers during the pandemic.

“Mayroon nang 15.1 billion na benepisyong naipamahagi ang ating gobyerno sa atin pong mga healthcare workers simula sa September 2020 hanggang sa kasalukuyan,” Duque said.

Of this amount, over 13 billion were allocated for special risk allowance (SRA) and active hazard duty pay, while around 1 billion were for meals, accommodation, and transportation, as well as life insurance.

Over Php 500 million were also allocated for sickness and death benefits for the country’s health workers.

“Nagpapasalamat kami Mr. President sa inyo at sa DBM (Department of Budget and Management) sa mabilis na pag-aksyon sa aming request para sa batch 3 and 4 ng SRA payment. Sila po ay nagbigay ng 882 million nitong pinakahuli,” Duque said.

According to the health secretary, PhP 1.23 billion has already been requested from the DBM for the fifth batch of SRA beneficiaries. END