Philippines eyes vaccinating 5 million people vs coronavirus by June

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2021 05:02 PM

A medical worker prepares a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Melopee care home, as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, in Brussels, Belgium Jan. 13, 2021. Johanna Geron, Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines eyes inoculating some 5 million people against the novel coronavirus by the middle of the year, Malacañang said on Thursday.

The first 50,000 doses out of the total 25 million that the country has secured from China's Sinovac Biotech are set to arrive in February. In that same month, the Philippines might also receive an initial batch of vaccine jabs from US-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya Institute, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

"Bibigyan natin ng proteksiyon ang pinakamababa, 5 milyong mga Pilipino, between now and June at pagdating ng July mas maraming proteksiyon pa po ang mabibigay natin," he told reporters in an online briefing.

(We will give protection to at least 5 million Filipinos between now and June, and by July, we can give more protection.)

The Philippines aims to vaccinate 50 to 70 million people this year, said Roque.

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Carlito Galvez, a former general in charge of the vaccination procurement effort, said the government has also firmed up supply deals with Novavax, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Russia's Gamaleya Institute for 137 million doses in total.

These are on top of 40 million doses the Philippines expects to receive through the World Health Organization's COVAX facility in the first quarter, Galvez said.

The Philippines has among the most coronavirus cases in Asia but has trailed regional peers in securing vaccines, with which it hopes this year to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population.

An opinion poll showed on Thursday less than a third of Filipinos are willing to get inoculated against the coronavirus as many have voiced concerns over safety

- With a report from Reuters