MANILA — The Philippines' vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. told lawmakers Wednesday that only half of the local government unit's (LGU) vaccine orders from British-Swedish drug firm AstraZeneca are expected to arrive this year, with the remainder to be delivered in 2022.
"[N]akita natin na because of the problem of supply ni AstraZeneca, most likely yung AstraZeneca na binili ng LGU, half of the AstraZeneca volume will be delivered only 2021, and another other half will be in 2022," Galvez said in a joint hearing of the House committees on Health and Trade and Industry.
The European Union was accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of holding up exports of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, particularly from AstraZeneca, after the bloc announced that it was placing export controls of COVID-19 vaccines to protect its own supplies.
Despite this, Galvez has repeatedly assured the public that Philippines would not have a problem in securing supplies of AstraZeneca vaccines, as the jabs would be manufactured in Thailand.
The next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines ordered by the national government will arrive in the Philippines in June, Galvez said, adding he would let the private sectors use it first.
"Napag-usapan namin ni Sir Joey [Concepcion, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship] na yung 1.3 million [doses] na darating this coming June will be dedicated for the private sector. And they decided that will be deployed in the Metro Manila area," Galvez said.
He also proposed that half of the national government's AstraZeneca orders be dedicated to LGUs and private sectors instead.
"We will convince the DOH na yung 50 percent na para sa government allocation will be sa 2022 na lang po... So yung private sector at LGU na talagang nakalinya sa procurement will be delivered in 2021," he said.
"So kami po ang ano namin, yung government share will be given kahit na sa 2022, considering we have been receiving AstraZeneca also from the COVAX facility and we can also buy AstraZeneca starting August," he added.
The government has vaccinated 1,353,107 Filipinos as of Tuesday, Galvez said, with over 1,562,563 doses administered.
- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News