Philippines to receive bivalent COVID-19 jabs from COVAX

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2023 03:29 PM

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MANILA – The Philippines is set to receive a donation of bivalent COVID-19 shots from vaccine-sharing facility COVAX, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

“Ang magandang balita po ngayon, nakapagcommit na po ang COVAX facility sa atin para sa donasyon na ipaparating nila dito sa ating bansa,” Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire told TeleRadyo.

(The good news is that the COVAX facility has committed to donate bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to our country.)

“And our target is for us to receive these donations within the first quarter of this year,” she added.

Vergeire refused to divulge the exact number of jabs to be donated, saying some agreements had to be finalized.

“Pero this will be enough for our priority, first priority population naman po,” she said. 

(But this will be enough for our first priority population.)

Other countries have also pledged to donate bivalent COVID-19 shots to the Philippines, said the official. 

The DOH in December said that negotiations with manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna are under way for the purchase of the bivalent COVID vaccine, which target both target the omicron variant and the original form of the virus.

The agency has also asked President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for a special authorization for the procurement of bivalent vaccines.

The state of calamity for COVID-19 expired on Dec. 31 and Marcos previously expressed reservations on extending it. While the vaccination program continues for a year using existing doses, the agency cannot procure additional jabs without special authority, Vergeire said. 

The DOH aims to have bivalent vaccines available by the first quarter of 2023.

Since the Philippines started its inoculation program in March 2021, some 73.8 million or 94.52 percent of eligible population in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Of the figure, over 21.2 million have received their first boosters while 3.8 million have gotten their second boosters.