First batch of AstraZeneca COVID jabs to arrive May or June: presidential adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2021 10:23 AM | Updated as of Jan 20 2021 10:30 AM

A healthcare worker holds a vial of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine at the Pentland Medical Practice in Currie, Scotland, Britain, January 7, 2021. Russell Cheyne/Pool, Reuters/file

MANILA - The first batch of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines will arrive between May and June, one of President Rodrigo Duterte's advisers said Wednesday.

This is contrary to the previous announcement of Malacañang that the doses would arrive in July. The Philippines has secured 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine so far, good for 8.5 million Filipinos, with the help of the private firms and local governments.

"The succeeding batches will move towards July, August so hopefully later part of the 2nd quarter and the bulk of them would be in the 3rd quarter," presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion told ANC's Headstart.

Aside from rank-and-file employees, contractual workers and supervisors, managers and CEOs should also be inoculated to boost vaccine confidence, the founder of GoNegosyo added.

"If we don’t vaccinate our key executives and even myself, the survey shows that the take-up of the vaccines are quite low so we really have to show that these vaccines are safe," he said.

"Show it to the people and hopefully the President will take it and in full view of the public that these vaccines are safe, that what we’re buying is safe for the Filipino people."

Billionaire Enrique Razon, meantime, assured government he would shoulder the transportation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine which needs to be stored at -25 degrees Celsius.

Terms sheets have been signed with Moderna, AstraZeneca and Novavax drug makers, according to Malacañang.

"Ricky Razon has his efforts in bringing Moderna with government as well, which is more challenging to bring with -25 degrees (Celsius) and that’s why he was telling me he’s ensuring that he will handle the transportation at no cost to the government," Concepcion said.

"We indicated to Ricky that we will help him consolidate orders...We want to encourage the smaller companies who can't handle big volumes to protect their employees."

The private sector, however, cannot donate anymore to government in the procurement of the Moderna vaccine, priced at around P2600 for 2 doses, Concepcion said.

"For the private sector to have to donate it’s gonna be difficult," he said.

"I think what we (government) have to do is we really have to source out the financing and the moment there is supply, we should try to secure that immediately and even pay a downpayment if necessary especially if this vaccine already have a respective FDA approval."

On other vaccines, Concepcion said he has "nothing against Sinovac" and believes that "anything over 50 percent is accepted by the World Health Organization."

"I believe this vaccine can still protect people and we should bring them in, of course we should be conscious about the price and that’s why we’re very strict in negotiations," he said.

The Philippines has forged an agreement with Sinovac for 25 million doses of its vaccine which may arrive in February, officials earlier said.

Watch more in iWantTFC