MANILA — A hold-up in the processing of some documents has pushed back the arrival of US-based Pfizer's coronavirus shots in the Philippines, an official leading the country's pandemic response said on Thursday.
The first batch of 117,000 COVID-19 shots from Pfizer will come from the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
"Iyong ating first 117,000 na Pfizer vaccines, nagkaroon ng kaunting delay dahil sa processing ng mga dokumento with the COVAX facility and the World Health Organization," said Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
(Our first 117,000 Pfizer vaccines met some delay because of the processing of documents.)
Dizon declined to say which documents were delayed.
“Pero we were assured na tinatapos na ito (this is being finalized) as we speak,” he told reporters in an online briefing.
The Philippines has yet to receive a tentative date when the Pfizer shots will arrive, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. In contrast, 600,000 donated COVID-19 shots from China's Sinovac will be delivered to the Philippines on Feb. 23, he said.
Pfizer's vaccine has emergency use authorization in the Philippines. Sinovac does not.
"Inaasahan po natin, hindi matatapos ang buwan ng Pebrero at darating din ang paunang shipment galing sa COVAX Facility," Roque said in online briefing.
(We expect that February will not end without an initial shipment from the COVAX Facility.)
"There's still this possibility na baka naman, harinawa, mauna pa rin ang Pfizer itong third week," he added.
(There is still a possibility, God willing, that Pfizer might arrive first in the third week of February.)
In January, legislators questioned the government's supposed preference for the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine even after latest data showed it has a lower efficacy rate.