MANILA — An official leading the Philippines' vaccination strategy said on Monday he would fly to India next week and sign a supply agreement for COVID-19 shots developed by US biotech firm Novavax.
Officials earlier said the Philippines would get 30 million doses of the Novavax vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) by July 2021.
"Pagpunta po namin sa India this coming [March] 9 and 12, pipirma din po kami ng aming supply agreement," vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said in a press briefing.
(In our trip to India this coming March 9 and 12, we will sign a supply agreement.)
"Kaya nga pupunta tayo sa India, so that we can really negotiate na magkaroon tayo nang early delivery for humanitarian reasons," added Galvez, who is also chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
(We will go to India so that we can really negotiate to get an early delivery for humanitarian reasons.)
The Philippines aims this year to inoculate 70 million of its 108 million people to achieve herd immunity and reopen an economy that in 2020 saw its worst contraction on record, due largely to tight restrictions on movement in place since mid-March.
The country is playing catchup with its Southeast Asian neighbors despite having one of the region's worst coronavirus problems.
In his trip to India, Galvez said he would also target a separate supply agreement with SII.
"Baka magkakaroon po kami ng other supply agreement para naman doon sa AstraZeneca at saka Covishield na bibilin ng gobyerno doon sa Serum Institute of India," he said.
(We could have another supply agreement for AstraZeneca and Covishield vaccines that the government will buy from the Serum Institute of India.)
China on Sunday donated and delivered to the Philippines 600,000 shots of the COVID-19 vaccine of Beijing-based drug maker Sinovac Biotech.
Medical frontliners in 6 Metro Manila hospitals on Monday received a fraction of the donation.
The government has been in talks with most major manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines, but has struggled to conclude deals, while stiff competition has tightened supply.
The vaccination program's launch has been delayed several times, with the latest setback a delay to the 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine that were supposed to arrive on Monday.
— With a report from Reuters