MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines is seeking a "steady supply" of COVID-19 vaccines as it aims for a "better Christmas" this year, the government's inoculation czar said Thursday.
Government aims to immunize 50 to 70 million against the coronavirus this year to achieve herd immunity. Vaccinations will happen in stadiums and mega quarantine facilities, said Secretary Carlito Galvez.
Philippines will try to vaccinate 1 million citizens per week in April, 2 million citizens per week in May, and 3 to 5 million per week beginning June, said Galvez.
The country has so far inoculated 269,583 healthcare workers in 4,500 vaccination sites nationwide, Galvez said.
"Ang aming declaration is we'll have a better Christmas this coming year. 'Yun ang target namin na we will have a better Christmas. We will inoculate 70 million. Nakita namin, kaya po natin ito pag nagkaroon tayo ng steady supply," he told ANC's Headstart.
(Our declaration is we'll have a better Christmas this coming year. That's our target, we will have a better Christmas, we will inoculate 70 million. We saw this can be done if we have a steady supply.)
"Ang US, UK and even 'yung Israel, also India, ang pinakasecret nila is steady supply. Ganun ang gagawin natin na magkaroon tayo ng steady supply na accelerating by month."
(The US, UK, Israel and India, their secret is steady supply. That's what we'll do, we'll have a steady supply that accelerates by month.)
The country's COVID-19 supply currently relies on global alliance COVAX Facility, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca, Galvez said. It has so far paid 15 percent of P700 million jabs it ordered from the Chinese drugmaker, he added.
It eyes an early shipment of 200,000 to 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax by second quarter when the US Food and Drug Administration grants it emergency approval, followed by local regulators.
The Philippines will also order 5 to 10 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V when the FDA approves the drug's emergency use, Galvez said.
"Initially magkakaroon kami ng 2 million this coming April," he said.
(Initially, we'll get 2 million this coming April.)
The country will "most likely" sign a COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement with Johnson and Johnson "this coming week," Galvez added.
"Ang maganda po, meron na po siyang EUL (emergency use listing) sa WHO (World Health Organization) so pwede na po siyang kasama sa COVAX," he said.
(The WHO has issued an EUL for it so it may be included in COVAX Facility's vaccines.)
The Philippines has so far only approved for emergency use COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sinovac.
On Wednesday, it tallied 4,387 new COVID-19 cases, raising its total number of infections to 635,698. The country might reach 11,000 fresh cases daily by the end of the month if virus transmission is not curbed, the OCTA Research Group said.