MANILA — The Philippines has secured 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by US biotech firm Novavax Inc, an official leading the country's inoculation strategy said on Tuesday.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said he signed a supply deal for the 30 million Novavax doses in a visit last week to the Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer.
The Novavax shots will arrive in the Philippines "most likely" in the third or fourth quarter of 2021, said Galvez, who is also chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
"Thirty million ang ating order... It can be expanded to another 10 [million], just in case maging successful ang ating mga government negotiations," he said in a press briefing.
(Our order is for 30 million. It can be expanded to another 10 million, just in case our government negotiations are successful.)
"Hinihintay lang po natin na maaprubahan ang tinatawag nating emergency use authorization nito sa UK, at sa US at dito sa ating bansa," the official added.
(We are just waiting for its emergency use authorization to be approved in the UK, the US, and here in our country.)
The Philippines has received 600,000 China-donated doses from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, and 525,600 shots of Britain's AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility, the rollout of both had started over the last 2 weeks.
Galvez said the Philippines would get at least 1.4 million more COVID-19 shots from Sinovac this month.
Vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility is also expected to deliver a second tranche of 900,000 COVID-19 shots in late March or early April, he added.
Galvez had said that the Philippines will get 161 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from different manufacturers this year.
At least 216,794 health workers have been vaccinated as of 11 a.m. of Tuesday, or 16 days since the rollout began, said Galvez.
Hospitals cannot vaccinate all of its workers to prevent operations from bogging down if they experience vaccine side effects, he said.
"Iyong vaccination sa health workers is very tedious at saka very deliberate, na medyo controlled ang ating vaccination."
(The vaccination of health workers is very tedious and deliberate, that's why it's a bit controlled.)
The elderly will be inoculated against COVID-19 once all target health frontliners are vaccinated in the first or second week of April, he said.
The Philippines, as of Monday, has recorded a total of 626,893 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 53,479 or 8.5 percent are active. The death toll stood at 12,837.