Video courtesy of Department of Health.
MANILA — The Philippines is expecting to receive hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines each from vaccine developers Sinovac, Pfizer and Gamaleya Institute of Russia this month, the Department of Health said Monday.
During a virtual briefing, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said that aside from the procured 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines that arrived on April 11, “There’s another 1 million that’s arriving — 500,000 on April 22 and another on April 29.”
“May indication, it can always change, that we’ll have some Pfizer vaccines arriving in April,” she said, adding that it might be around 194,000 doses. The Philippines was supposed to first receive Pfizer vaccines from the vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX Facility but delays in the processing resulted in AstraZeneca vaccines being first.
Cabotaje said the country is also expecting 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which will be used for simulation or practice. This will be the very first shipment of Sputnik V that will arrive in the country.
The health official said the remaining 480,000 Sputnik V doses will arrive by the end of April.
Cabotaje said there are also vaccines expected to arrive in the coming months.
“In May we are expecting another 2.5 million (doses). of Sinovac. And we are expecting the Astrazeneca (doses) from COVAX hopefully by May or at the least very early part of June to cover our 2nd dose…so may mga 900,000,” she said. Cabotaje referred to the 2nd dose of the 525,000 doses that already arrived in the Philippines and had been administered as 1st doses.
Unlike the Sinovac vaccine, which was shipped with its 2nd dose, AstraZeneca’s 2nd dose is shipped separately since it has a longer interval time (at 4 to 12 weeks) for the 2nd dose.
Cabotaje said the Philippines already has a supply agreement with Novavax through one of its manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India. However, she said there is still a global shortage of vaccines and India is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“So we will have to see how fast they can manufacture and deliver to us,” she said.
India had earlier put a temporary hold on COVID-19 vaccine exports to prioritize its own vaccination program. This has resulted in delays for the distribution of orders of the COVAX Facility.
The Philippines, which has also seen a surge in COVID-19 cases, has only received 3 million vaccine doses. It has administered more than 1.4 million doses, which is still far from the target of 70 million vaccinated people to reach herd immunity by the end of the year.