Philippines expects 5.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to arrive by end-March

Philippines expects 5.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to arrive by end-March

Virus Outbreak Philippines
A volunteer reacts as she participates during a COVID-19 vaccination dry run in Taguig, Philippines on Jan 27, 2021. (Photo: AP/Aaron Favila)

MANILA: At least 5.6 million doses of two international COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in the Philippines in the first quarter of the year, the chief of the country's coronavirus task force said on Sunday (Jan 31).

The initial volume is part of the 9.4 million doses of the two vaccines - one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other by AstraZeneca - that are expected to be shipped in the first half of the year, said Carlito Galvez, who also handles the government's vaccine procurement.

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Galvez said he has received a letter from Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of the WHO-led COVAX Facility, informing the Philippine government of the shipment schedule and volume.

Review committees from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the Geneva-based vaccine alliance GAVI granted the country the vaccines after the Philippines demonstrated its preparedness to receive them, he said.

The country's Food and Drug Administration has approved the emergency use of both brands.

READ: Rumours and fear dog Philippine plan for COVID-19 vaccine drive

The Philippines, with Southeast Asia's second-biggest COVID-19 outbreak at more than half a million infections and over 10,000 deaths, aims to start immunisations in February.

The country is to initially receive 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine around midmonth, and 5.5 million to 9.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca brand, Galvez said.

The volumes though are "indicative since it all depends on the global supply", he said.

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The government aims to secure 148 million doses, aiming to inoculate 70 million people this year, or two-thirds of the country's population.

The Philippines has also secured 25 million doses of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, with the first 50,000 expected to arrive in February.

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Source: Reuters/jt

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