After a tumultuous year battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Philippines finally began making headways against the virus at the start of 2021 after the government announced the procurement of millions of vaccine doses.
The country has so far locked in 30 million doses from India’s Serum Institute, 25 million from China’s Sinovac, and 2.6 million from British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines will have up to 172 million doses for the next year.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s weekly national address, Galvez said several COVID-19 vaccines will be arriving in the Philippines this year.
The controversial Chinese vaccine, which has yielded efficacy rates of 50.4% to 91.25% in clinical trials in different countries, will be the first to arrive in the Philippines.
Galvez said an initial delivery of 50,000 doses will arrive next month, while an additional 950,000 doses will be delivered in March, and 2 million more doses will arrive in the succeeding months.
“Nag-intercede ang tinatawag nating diplomatic channels… nagkaroon po tayo ng bilateral [agreement],” he said. “Best price at saka at cost ‘yung price po na ibibgay sa atin.”
The Philippines is set to sign a deal with AstraZeneca for an additional 20 million doses on Thursday.
Galvez said the doses from the British firm will arrive between July and September.
The AstraZeneca vaccine showed an average efficacy of 70% in clinical trials.
The Philippines may secure as many as 25 to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Isa siya sa pinakamalaki na makukuha po natin,” Galvez said.
He added that the American firm made a commitment to send excess doses from the US and other countries to the Philippines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech jab yielded 95% efficacy in a late-stage trial.
Galvez said the Philippines and Janssen, a firm under Johnson & Johnson, were also in the final stages of negotiations for a supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Naghihintay na lang po tayo ng approval ng mga kontrata at ito po ay baka madagdagan po yung quota natin,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Janssen’s clinical trials in the Philippines last month.
There have also been “positive” developments in the Philippines’ talks with Moderna, Galvez said.
“Nag-negotiate po kami kahapon ng umaga at positive din po at nangako po si Sir Enrique Razon na siya na po ang kukuha sa Spain ng supplies, pro bono,” he said.
“Baka ang local government units din po at saka po ‘yung mga private sector ay puwedeng kumuha po ng Moderna through the tripartite agreement,” he added.
The Moderna vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 94.5%.
The Philippines also hopes to get 50 to 100 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, according to Galvez.
The vaccine produced by the Gamaleya Institute has an efficacy rate of 92%.
Galvez added that the COVAX Facility will provide COVID-19 vaccines for free to some 22 million Filipinos.
The vaccines will come from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Janssen.
“Secured na natin ang 137 million po na doses para next year. Puwede pong umakyat ‘yan sa 172 million,” Galvez concluded.
The Philippines has tallied 492,700 cases as of Wednesday afternoon. -- BAP, GMA News