Philippines to buy 161 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by yearend: Galvez

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2021 10:39 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2021 12:06 AM

National Task Force against Coronavirus Disease-2019 (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. gives updates to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on February 15, 2021. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - The Philippines will receive at least 161 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses by yearend, a government official said Monday, hours after the country began its immunization program against the deadly disease.

National COVID-19 task force chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., in a public briefing, said that of the 161 million, 44 million will be procured from the COVAX Facility, an initiative which aims for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all.

This is 13 million more than the previous proposal to procure 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from 7 pharmaceutical companies.

The Philippines will have more or less 20 million doses of COVID-19 shots by the second quarter of 2021, according to Galvez.

"Sa third quarter po, diyan po lalabas lahat ng ating mga vaccines na ating bibilhin ... sa third quarter, meron po tayong 68 million. At doon po sa fourth quarter, meron po tayong 69 (million). All in all … meron po tayong 161 million doses," he said.

(In the third quarter, the vaccines which we'll buy will be available … we'll have 68 million additional doses in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, we'll have 69 million. All in all … we'll have 161 million doses.)

The Philippines began its COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Monday, inoculating over 700 health workers the day after the country received its first supply of vaccines, courtesy of China's donation of 600,000 doses from Beijing-based drugmaker Sinovac Biotech. 

Galvez said COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered to Cebu on March 3, and to Davao on March 4. According to the official, Metro Manila is still the top priority of the country's immunization program among regions due to its large number of COVID-19 cases.

The national government aims to immunize 70 million of its 108 million people this year to achieve herd immunity and further re-open an economy, which saw its worst contraction on record last year due to the pandemic.

Galvez Jr. earlier said the government is eyeing to vaccinate 1.7 million health workers this March. Officials are expecting 1 million more doses this month after securing 25 million doses from Sinovac.

As of Monday, the Philippines has logged 578,381 coronavirus cases, with 12,322 deaths and 534,351 recoveries. Active cases stood to 31,708.

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