Vaccine Czar and National Task Force chief Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday disclosed that the Philippines will purchase the majority of its Covid-19 vaccine supply from the United States’ Novavax.
During the Senate Committee on the Whole’s first hearing on the government’s plan on vaccine rollout, Galvez enumerated the supplies that the Philippines is set to secure.
“Our main volumes will be coming from Novavax with 30 to 40 million doses,” Galvez said.
Other vaccines that the Philippines is still set to procure are more or less 40 million from Pfizer, 25 to 30 million doses from AstraZeneca, 25 million from Sinovac, 25 million from Gamaleya, and 40 million from COVAX — a pooled vaccine procurement across the globe which is led by the World Health Organization, Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
The main bulk of vaccines to be rolled out is expected in the third or fourth quarter of 2021, Galvez said.
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque confirmed that Sinovac will provide 25 million vials 50,000 of which are to be delivered soon on top of the 15,000 shots to be used for the clinical trials.
At the same hearing, Galvez disclosed that 80 percent of the Covid-19 vaccine supply is already secured by the wealthy rich countries. Galvez also appealed to Congress that a law should be passed to remove the anticipated delays in the delivery of the vaccines.
Several Senators declared their support to local government units (LGU) and the private sector that will purchase vaccines directly from the manufacturers, saying they should not meet intervention from the national government.
“The reality is that more than 80 percent of global supply has already been procured by rich countries,” he said. “We, along with other countries, are now trying our best to negotiate with different vaccine companies to get a fair share of the vaccines for the remaining 18 percent of the global supply.”
For now, there is no certainty in securing the vaccines as he admitted that the supply and demand for the vaccines is still “very volatile.”
Nevertheless, he said around 50 to 70 million will be inoculated during the first semester under the best-case scenario in vaccine deployment.
Galvez also said that the government may facilitate the first inoculation in the country maybe seen in the last week of February.
The official said the first vaccines may arrive by 20 February and will take a week or two to inject to recipients.
On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it is in the final stages in the issuance of the emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine.
This is expected to be finished in one to two days.
FDA’s Director-General Eric Domingo said the American manufacturer has submitted its application for EUA in December 2020.
Domingo said they have already received the inputs from the experts on the Pfizer vaccine.
For AstraZeneca, the FDA said it has already applied for a EUA this January and it may be released by mid-January.
Moreover, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country may achieve herd immunity by 2021 if the global supply of the Covid-19 vaccines is enough.
To achieve this, the Department of Health (DoH) will establish 4,512 vaccination sites which are similar to election sites and medical facilities in the rural areas and other localities.
The sites will be manned by a physician, nurse, or midwife who will be screening and assessing the recipients; one allied professional or volunteer for health education; a doctor, nurse, or midwife who will do the actual vaccination; and two health workers or volunteers from DoH’s partner-agencies who will be in charge of the documentation and the recipients’ vital signs.
Each site will eye to vaccinate around 100 patients per day.
To encourage Filipinos to get inoculated, Duque said the DoH will boost its information campaign following the recent surveys which showed that only 34 percent of 2,400 Filipinos are willing to get vaccines.
“We will be engaging in a massive social marketing campaign so that our people, knowing that our previous very unfortunate experience with Dengvaxia, we have learned our lessons from that experience,” said Duque when asked about the survey results.
The Health Secretary said that they have faced challenges in the vaccination program due to the Dengvaxia controversy but it has “improved over time” and more efforts should be done by the government.
Duque said transparency will help the government gain confidence from the public in rolling out the inoculation plan.
The DoH is also planning to tap medical associations such as the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine Nurses Association to encourage the public to get vaccinated. (MJ Blancaflor)