The Philippines targets to vaccinate some 50 to 70 million Filipinos from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) this year, as the government on Wednesday said the country is in talks to purchase as much as 148 million doses.
At a virtual briefing, COVID-19 policy chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said advanced stages of negotiations are now ongoing with Novovax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Gamaleya.
"We hope to close the deal with these companies this month," he said, as other government officials earlier said the country would have already had the shipment this January if not for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who dropped the ball and failed to submit the necessary documents.
In response, Duque had said that "there is no such this as dropping the ball" as he said negotiations are still ongoing.
Aside from the bilateral negotiations, Galvez said the Philippines also stands to receive fully subsidized doses of 20% of the population, equivalent to 22 million Filipinos, through the COVAX Facility.
The COVAX Facility is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries access to safe and effective vaccines one licensed and approved.
The Philippine private sector is already set to increase the number of vaccines ordered from British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to as much as 6 million doses, double the 2.5 million to 3.5 million earlier announced.
"The implementation of national vaccine program is not the sole responsibility of the government. Batid ng pamahalaan na hindi nito makakaya mag-isa," Galvez said Wednesday. — RSJ, GMA News