MANILA — The Philippines is ready to launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive next week, Malacañang said on Monday, as the country awaited its supply of doses.
The country's first COVID-19 vaccine batch will arrive in "mid-February" from the COVAX Facility, which seeks to ensure equitable access to the drug, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"Ilang tulog na lang, mga kaibigan, at dadating na ang unang batch ng ating bakuna. Ready or not, handang-handa po ang ating gobyerno para magsimula ang ating vaccination drive itong a-15 ng Pebrero," he told reporters in an online briefing.
(Just a few more nights of sleep, friends, and the first batch of our vaccine will arrive. Our government is very prepared for our vaccination drive to start this Feb. 15.)
Later asked to clarify if the inoculations would start on Feb. 15, Roque said, "If it (vaccine batch) arrives--and we only need a day or 2 naman to start the vaccination, we will proceed."
"It's just a matter of when the plane carrying the Pfizer vaccines will actually land in NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport)," he added.
Video courtesy of PTV
The Philippines has more than 537,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, among the highest in Asia. It has trailed regional peers in securing vaccines, with which the government hopes to inoculate up to 70 million people or two-thirds of the population this year.
The country will get some 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the global alliance COVAX Facility in the first quarter, including 117,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine expected to arrive by the third week of February, said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
"Sa best case scenario po, kung meron po tayong enough supply at naging successful ang negotiation natin, by December, kaya po natin 50 to 70 million," Galvez told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Sunday.
"Kung magkakaroon po tayo ng shortage ng supply, worst case scenario po natin, middle of 2022 po," he added.
(Our best case scenario, if we have enough supply and our negotiations are successful, by December, we can inoculate 50 to 70 million. If we encounter a shortage, our worst case scenario is middle of 2022.)
Health workers are on top of the vaccination priority list, officials earlier said.