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Almost 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine due on March 22

Close to a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive on March 22, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

If there will be delays, he said the vaccine could reach the country on the first week of April.

"The second tranche that will be given to us total to 979,200 this March, this is the latest information," Galvez said on Monday's Cabinet briefing presided by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The total doses of  979,200 is the second tranche of the vaccine expected to be turned over the Philippine government next week, following the 525,600 doses which arrived last March 4 (487,200) and March 7 (38,400).

Health workers have begun receiving the AstraZeneca jab last week, being the priority sector for vaccination.  

Galvez earlier said the government aims to vaccinate all 1.7 million health workers within March amid warnings of a looming surge in cases with the presence of new variants, including the South Africa variant.

The vaccines are part of the supply allocated to the Philippines by the global vaccine-sharing COVAX scheme.

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.

The Philippines has signed purchase orders worth an estimated P4.8 billion for 17 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the AstraZeneca vaccine was worth US$5 or P242.50 per dose.

Health and regulatory officials had said the Philippines will continue using AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine as there is currently no indication that it caused the blood clots reported in some European countries.

The Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said countries like Denmark and Norway only halted their AstraZeneca rollout as a precautionary measure while they probe the blood clots that followed vaccination.—LDF, GMA News