PASIG CITY — The Philippine government and Pfizer-BioNTech have signed an amendment to its previous supply agreement for the purchase of an additional 20 million vaccine doses, which brings to 60 million the total vaccine shots ordered by the country from the US-based manufacturer for the year 2021 and 2022.

This was announced on Saturday, November 27, by National Task Force against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. two days before the start of the massive countrywide vaccination drive dubbed National Vaccination Days.

“We are very happy with this development, as it will substantially increase our current vaccine supply inventory. These 20 million Pfizer doses are in addition to the 40 million shots we had secured for the country earlier this year,” Galvez said.

“With these additional doses, we can ensure the sustainability of our National Vaccination Program, and hit the vaccination targets we have set not only for this year, but for 2022 as well,” he added.

Galvez said the latest procurement will be used as booster shots and for minors or new vaccine formulation subject to Food and Drug Administration’s approval.

To date the country has received a total of 142,153,340 COVID-19 vaccine doses from various manufacturers since February. Out of these arrivals, at least 92 million have been procured by the national government.

As of November 27, a total of 81,017, 994 vaccine doses were administered nationwide. Of this number, 45,286,049 doses have been given as the first dose, while 35, 557, 409 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated or 46.10% of the country’s target population.

Key role of multinational partners

According to the chief implementer, the Pfizer doses will be financed through the Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project (PCERP), an additional financing loan which the national government secured from the World Bank in March 2021.

“We are very grateful to our vaccine makers such as Pfizer and our institutional and multinational partners such as the World Bank for fully supporting the Philippines’ pandemic response efforts. With their help, we have been able to secure sufficient vaccine doses for our people,” he said.

Edilberto Reyes, Pfizer Philippines Interim Country Manager, said the latest 20 million Pfizer doses will be delivered to the country starting January 2022 based on a monthly schedule agreed upon by both parties.

“We are very happy to continue our partnership with the Philippines government, thus enabling the immunization of the country’s population throughout 2022,” Reyes said in a statement.

“As we look ahead, ongoing vaccinations will remain critical to help address the COVID-19 outbreaks globally,” said Sean Marett, chief business and commercial officer of BioNTech.

“That is why we are pleased to be continuing our work with the Philippines government in 2022 to help broaden vaccine access and protect public health,” Marett added.

Vaccination targets

Meanwhile, Galvez underscored the importance of continuously building up the country’s vaccine stockpile, as these will enable the national government to achieve the milestones it had set under the synchronized vaccination matrix.

“We set four major milestones that we aim to achieve until the third quarter of 2022. And we are determined to hit these targets despite the challenges we continue to face,” he said.

Galvez said the first milestone is to fully vaccinate 54 million Filipinos this year, including at least 80% of the pediatric population aged 12 to 17.

“Currently, our pediatric population is among the most vulnerable sectors to the disease. We therefore have to ramp up the inoculation of this age group,” he said.

“We also aim to finish administering booster shots to 1.6 million health workers and 5 to 8 million senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities,” Galvez added.

The second milestone, Galvez said, is focused on fully vaccinating 77 million Filipinos fully by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

“We will also carry out, in a phased manner, the administration of booster shots to the A4 group or our economic frontliners, as well as the vaccination of minors aged 5 to 11,” the vaccine czar said.

Galvez said the third milestone seeks to increase the number of fully vaccinated individuals to 90 million by the second quarter of 2022, and to complete the administration of booster shots for government and economic frontliners.

“Providing greater protection to our economic frontliners and government workers will be the key in the revival of our business accelerating the economic recovery of our country,” he noted.

Galvez said the fourth milestone is focused on completing the primary and booster vaccination of the rest of the population by the end of the third quarter of 2022.

“We really have to make sure that we are able to get the COVID-19 jabs to the arms of as many Filipinos as possible in order for our country to achieve herd immunity at the soonest possible time,” he said.

Galvez said that this is the goal of the upcoming National Vaccination Days dubbed “Bayanihan, Bakunahan.”

“Through this massive vaccination drive, we hope to vaccinate 9 million Filipinos across all sectors. This is why we are calling on our countrymen to support this initiative,” he said.

Galvez said the vaccination drive also seeks to scale up the vaccination throughput of local governments units in 16 regions outside the National Capital region, especially in areas with low inoculation rates.

“To our LGUs, this is your chance to bring up your vaccination rates. I have no doubt that through this initiative, you will be able to hit and sustain your targets,” he said.

Galvez also called on sectors of society to support the National Vaccination Days.

“Be a hero to your families and your communities. Get the COVID-19 jab now so we can have a better and safer Christmas,” Galvez said.###