MANILA — The Philippines will receive up to 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for free from the COVAX initiative, an official leading the country's inoculation drive said on Thursday.
Led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance, the global COVAX initiative aims to ensure equal distribution of vaccines against the deadly virus.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez said he has seen a "confirmation of participation" in the COVAX scheme.
"Ikinagagalak ko pong ibalita na ang ating COVAX Facility para sa Pilipinas ay naaprubahan na po. Sa loob po na posibilidad na makasiguro mayroon tayong 30 to 40 milion na doses for free, para po sa lahat sa ating mga kababayan," he said in a public briefing.
(I am happy to announce that our COVAX Facility for the Philippines has been approved. It includes the possibility of ensuring that we will have 30 to 40 million doses for free, for all our compatriots.)
Vaccines from COVAX will include those developed by US-based Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson, British drugs group AstraZeneca, and Covovax from the Serum Institute of India, said Galvez.
The first vaccine batch will arrive in the country in February, he said.
"Sa ngayon, wala pa po tayong definite kung ano pong vaccine ang mauunang i-deploy, but most likely iyong Pfizer."
(For now, we have no definite info on which vaccine will arrive first, but it will most likely be Pfizer.)
"Tingi-tingi po ang dating n’yan, mga tig-100,000 a month, thereabouts," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a separate press briefing.
(The arrival will be in batches of about 100,000 each a month, thereabouts.)
These will be on top the 148 million vaccine doses that the Philippines is hoping to secure this January, he said.
The government aims to begin immunizations next month, hoping to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of the population, this year.