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Duque: Philippines pushing for more Sinovac, Sputnik V vaccines as COVAX faces shortfall

The Philippines is exerting its “best effort” to get more doses of China’s Sinovac and Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday.

This comes after the World Health Organization disclosed that COVAX, a global initiative for equitable vaccine distribution, is facing a “serious challenge” to meet growing demand, posing a threat to the Philippines’ already scarce vaccine supply. 

“We are doing best effort to get more Sinovac [vaccines]. 1.5 million doses arriving this April and 2 million doses by May,” Duque told GMA News Online.

He earlier said that health authorities were working to fast-track the approval of Sinovac’s use on senior citizens, since the Chinese vaccine is only recommended for clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59. 

Duque added that vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. is “negotiating with Gamaleya for 500,000 doses of Sputnik V instead of 100,000.”

Galvez previously said the Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed the Sputnik V vaccine, was only able to commit 100,000 doses after the Philippines signified an interest in “more or less 3 million doses” for April and May

The Philippines has so far received over 2.5 million doses of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs. As of March 30, 738,913 individuals have gotten their first dose while 1,344 have received both shots.

Many other Filipinos part of the priority sectors have yet to receive protection from COVID-19, with the Health Department estimating around 1.8 million health workers, 9 million senior citizens, and 14.5 million persons with comorbidities nationwide.

“All other vaccine brands will possibly be available when supply eases by July, according to Secretary Galvez,” Duque said.

The Philippines has logged 756,199 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon, 138,948 of which remain active. — RSJ, GMA News