PH can finish COVID-19 vaccination rollout this year: Galvez

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2021 12:49 AM

Mock vaccines arrive at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on February 9, 2021. The activity is part of the simulation exercise conducted by authorities in preparation for the arrival of the actual vaccines expected mid-February. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Philippines may be able to immunize all of its citizens against COVID-19 and complete its vaccination program this year.

That's according to vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., who said on Monday that based on the supply and demand of vaccines around the globe, the country has a chance to inoculate its citizens within 2021.

"Based on global data, 'yung 6 na approved na vaccine, ay meron silang kapasidad na more or less 10 billion na vaccine. At the same time, 'yung trial data ng Phase 3, Novavax at J&J (Johnson & Johnson), may additional capacity na another 3.2 billion. So, more or less, meron po tayong total na 13.2 billion na capacity for 2021," he said in an aired public briefing.

(The 6 approved vaccines are capable of manufacturing more or less 10 billion vaccines. At the same time, Novavax and J&J's trial data of Phase 3 showed they have additional capacity of 3 billion jabs. So the world has a total of 13.2 billion capacity for 2021.)

Galvez earlier said the Philippines is in "advanced" negotiations with 6 makers of vaccines, namely Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, at (and) Gamaleya.

But he noted in the briefing that the Philippines will still struggle to acquire its much-needed number of COVID-19 jabs in the first quarter until second quarter of 2021.

"Kasi karamihan po nung mga Western vaccine ay ginagamit po ng mga taga-Europe at America," Galvez said.

(Most of Western vaccines are being used in Europe and America.)

Galvez said that based on data which shows the global population at 7.8 billion, 5.5 billions are adults. Of the 5.5 billion, 4 billion are willing to be inoculated against COVID-19.

"So kung titingnan po natin 'yung supply and demand sa 2021, may possibility po na 'yung ating vaccination program ay makakaya po sa 2021," he said.

(If we look at the supply and demand in 2021, there's a possibility we can finish our vaccination program in 2021.)

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs has assured it will not hinder the delivery of the vaccines once they arrive in the country, said Galvez, and that the COVID-19 shots will be loaded immediately into refrigerated vans.

"They (will) never intervene doon sa (with the) packaging," he said.

Galvez expressed optimism as the simulations of the delivery of vaccines were successful. But he noted there are still problems in the country's future storage of COVID-19 vaccines.

"Gagawan po natin ng paraan (We will find a solution), so we are having another rehearsal internally," he said, adding he will meet with third-party providers to help out with the logistics on COVID-19 vaccine storages.

The Philippines, which has registered more than 550,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11,517 deaths, has lagged behind some of its regional neighbors in securing COVID-19 shots, which the Duterte administration hoped to give to up to 70 million people or two-thirds of the Filipino population in 2021. 

Malacañang earlier in the day said the Philippines has submitted all necessary documents to get an initial batch of COVID-19 shots from Pfizer. 

The first batch would arrive in the country “mid-February", while a separate initial batch of 600,000 doses from China's Sinovac Biotech will arrive on Feb. 23, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.

Some documents had delayed the arrival of the 117,000 Pfizer jabs from the COVAX Facility, a global initiative for vaccine-sharing, Roque earlier said. 

The country will get some 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines under COVAX Facility in the first quarter, including the 117,000 doses, according to Galvez, who said the Philippines may finish its vaccination program in 2023 in "worst case scenario."

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