MANILA — The Philippines will get its first batch of COVID-19 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech next month, which would boost the country's inoculation drive, an official said on Wednesday.
The lack of an inoculation deal had delayed the supposed arrival in mid-February of 117,000 Pfizer doses from COVID-19 vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility that the World Health Organization leads with other groups.
“Nag-commit na po iyong WHO na darating po iyong 117,000 doses ng Pfizer ngayong Abril, sa susunod na buwan,” said Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
“Malaking bagay rin po ito, lalong-lalo na para sa ating health care workers na priority nating matapos hanggang buwan ng Abril at Mayo,” he said in a televised public briefing.
(The WHO has committed that the 117,000 doses of Pfizer will arrive this April, next month. This is a big deal, especially for our health care workers who are our priority [for vaccinations] from April to May.)
The Philippines eyes finishing vaccinations of health care workers and senior citizens against COVID-19 by the middle of 2021, Dizon said.
The Philippines has received 600,000 shots that China donated from Beijing-based drug maker Sinovac Biotech, and 525,600 doses of Britain's AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX.
Authorities expect to get 1.4 million more Sinovac shots and another AstraZeneca batch from COVAX this March, he said.
The Philippines aims to inoculate up to 70 million people or about two-thirds of its population against the novel coronavirus this year.
Among the worst hit by the pandemic in Asia, the Philippines next week would mark the first year since government enforced quarantine restrictions that left businesses struggling and millions jobless.