MANILA — COVID-19 vaccines from US-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya Institute may arrive in the Philippines in February, Malacañang said on Thursday, as authorities raced to book supplies of the drug to begin inoculations as the coronavirus pandemic persisted over a year since it began in China.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was not at liberty to disclose how many jabs from Pfizer would arrive next month. The Food and Drug Administration just approved its application for emergency use approval, which shortens to 21 days the usual 6-month review before local use.
"Makakatanggap na rin daw tayo ng ilang bakuna galing sa Pfizer as early as February... Alam ko po, hindi gaanong karami ang matatanggap natin," he said, quoting vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez.
(We will also receive some vaccine doses from Pfizer as early as February. I know we won't get much.)
"Patunay po iyan na di tayo pumapabor kahit anong brand. Kung alin ang makakarating sa Pilipinas sa lalong madaling panahon, iyan po ang kukuhanin natin," Roque told reporters in an online briefing.
(That is proof that we do not favor any brand. Whichever arrives in the Philippines first is that we will get.)
FDA head Rolando Enrique Domingo said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has shown a 95-percent success rate, could be effective in preventing COVID-19. The disease has so far infected nearly half a million people.
"Hindi rin po imposible na by February, baka mayroon na rin tayong maangkat [na COVID-19 vaccine] galing po sa Gamaleya ng Russia," said Roque.
(It is also not impossible for us to import the COVID-19 vaccine from the Gamaleya Institute of Russia.)
Video courtesy of PTV
Domingo said China's Sinovac Biotech on Wednesday submitted its emergency use authorization application.
That followed the release of late-stage trial data in Brazil that showed efficacy at just 50.4 percent. The Philippines has secured 25 million doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac, with the first 50,000 to arrive in February.
President Rodrigo Duterte defended the government's purchase of CoronaVac, saying on Wednesday night that it was as good as the shots developed by Americans and Europeans.
The Philippines has trailed regional peers in securing vaccines, with which it hopes this year to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population.
Galvez, who handles the vaccine procurement for the government, said it has now firmed-up supply deals with Novavax , Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Russia's Gamaleya Institute.
AstraZeneca and Gamaleya have pending emergency use applications with the FDA.
— With a report from Reuters