MANILA — The COVID-19 vaccine that US-based Pfizer developed would be available only to "major cities," Malacañang said on Monday, as authorities sought to inoculate two-thirds of Filipinos this year.
Pfizer's vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius and facilities for this are limited, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Pati po sa Amerika na napakarami nilang na-order, nasasayang po dahil from the factory to delivery, hindi po nasusunod ang cold chain," he told reporters in an online briefing.
(Even in America which ordered so many doses from Pfizer, these are wasted because from factory to deliver, the cold chain is not followed.)
"Sa mga mayroong colonial mentality na gustong Pfizer, puwede po kayong maghintay, pero ang ating warning po: D'yan lang po iyan mabibigay dito sa Pilipinas sa mga major na siyudad dahil wala naman talaga tayong cold chain capacity outside Metro Manila," he added.
(For those who have colonial mentality who want Pfizer, you can wait, but this is our warning: it can only be distributed to major cities because we really don't have cold chain capacity outside Metro Manila.)
Authorities, he said, recently secured 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Covovax from Serum Institute of India (SII), which only needs to be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
SII partnered with U.S.-based Novavax Inc for the development and commercialization of Covovax, which is in third-stage trials and expected to be approved for use by international regulators, Faberco said.
The vaccine will be available locally by the third quarter of 2021 and will be used to inoculate 15 million vulnerable and poor Filipinos, it said.
Galvez has said the Philippines was negotiating with seven vaccine manufacturers to procure at least 148 million COVID-19 shots as it seeks to inoculate close to two-thirds of its population this year, said Carlito Galvez, a former military general in charge of the Philippines' strategy to fight the coronavirus.
Manila is hoping to close similar deals with Moderna , AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson , Sinovac Biotech and the Gamaleya Institute this month.
There are now three applicants for emergency use authorization of their vaccines in the Philippines - Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Russia's Gamaleya.
- With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters