MANILA, Philippines — Vaccines developed by the United States could arrive in the country in the next two months, Manila’s envoy to Washington said Tuesday.
A vast majority of the Philippines’ supply of COVID-19 jabs remain from China’s Sinovac, while some 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca arrived in March from the global initiative COVAX facility.
In a Palace briefing, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said Moderna gave a target date of June 15 for an initial 200,000 doses. A supply agreement for 20 million doses was signed in March, but there has been no word on a final purchase deal.
“I think they’re quite confident that they will be able to [roll in[ the vaccines,” he said. “Then, it will start increasing in succeeding months…they will complete the 20 million before the end of the year.”
Moderna is taken in two doses, and has reported an efficacy rate of 94%. Regulators in the US also approved it for emergency use in late 2020, but it has yet to apply for the same in the Philippines.
Romualdez said too that Pfizer’s 117,000 doses from the COVAX could reach the country next month. The said supply was supposed to arrive with doses of AstraZeneca, but figured in delays due to the lack of an indemnity law in the country.
At one point, a senior Duterte administration official admitted that government was caught off guard for the need for it, despite vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. telling a Senate inquiry about it in January.
“My understanding was we did not know about that. Everything was supposedly in place,” said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in February.
The country’s ambassador to the US said the Department of Justice is “already in the final phase” of ensuring that the indemnity agreement is clear.
“So those are the two leading vaccines coming from the United States that should be coming in to the Philippines starting June, perhaps the end of May for Pfizer,” Romualdez said, “and then June for Moderna, and then the rest.”
Over 1.2 million Filipinos have been vaccinated against the COVID-19, per government figures. Of this, more than 190,000 have since been fully inoculated.
Administration officials said more doses of Sinovac will arrive this April, as well as from COVAX and a first 20,000 from Russia’s Gamaleya.
There remains no update if government has inked procurement deals with other vaccine manufacturers, which would finalize the number of doses including its price.
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