MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines is set to receive around 2.3 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses this month or early April, the country's vaccine czar said Monday, amid a spike in new cases.
National COVID-19 task force chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. expects 1.4 million more vaccine doses from China-based Sinovac, and almost a million doses from UK-based AstraZeneca.
"Within this month or early April, 979,200 AstraZeneca [shots will arrive], with a total of 2,379,200 doses by March or early April," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte meanwhile said the Philippines does not yet have enough stocks of vaccines, amid criticisms that the country's COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been slow since it started on March 1.
"Hanggang ngayon, wala pa tayong sobra (na bakuna). Ibig sabihin, walang dumating except those donated, iyong ginawang donasyon lang ng China at WHO. Walang bayad 'yun," Duterte said.
(Until now, we don't have extra vaccines. That means nothing yet has arrived but those donated by China and WHO. Those are free.)
The country received 600,000 Sinovac shots and more than 500,000 AstraZeneca jabs earlier this month, courtesy of Beijing and COVAX Facility, respectively. The COVAX is an initiative aiming for equitable access to vaccines, which WHO leads.
The Philippines last Saturday reported its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases in more than 6 months and its first case of the highly contagious variant first identified in Brazil.
It then recorded 5,404 new infections Monday, the fourth highest reported in a day since the start of the pandemic in the country.
Amid public criticisms that it failed to curb COVID-19 transmissions, Malacañang said government is not to blame for the surge, even as the Philippines marked the first year of its pandemic lockdown.
"The confirmation that the new variants are in the Philippines and that new variants are more contagious, this is one of the reasons for the surge—and not because the government is sloppy," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in Filipino.
With 626,893 coronavirus infections, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
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