MANILA—Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday said at least 1.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the COVAX facility will arrive in this month.
Galvez said in a taped public briefing that in his talks with the UN-led initiative, the Philippine government was told the jabs will arrive "most likely" on May 11.
Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech are included in the COVAX shipment.
COVAX is a vaccine sharing program that aims to distribute shots to lower-income countries.
"Darating po ng May 11 . . . 'yung 193,000 [doses] . . . na parang tinatawag natin na mini-rollout ng Pfizer," he said, adding this will give the government much-needed experience on how to handle the US-made jabs, which need to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius.
Galvez said Pfizer will deliver some of its vaccines directly to some of Visayas and Mindanao, through Cebu and Davao, so they won't need to pass through Metro Manila.
He said urban centers, such as Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao City, will be prioritized in vaccine distribution due to prevalence of COVID-19 in these areas.
The lack of an indemnity deal, which settles who will shoulder the cost of adverse effects from the vaccine, delayed the arrival of the first Pfizer batch initially expected in mid-February.
As of Wednesday, 1.7 million Filipinos have been inoculated, with 2.06 million vaccine doses administered, Galvez said. More than 3 million jabs have been delivered to the Philippines since February 28.
The country aims to vaccinate up to 70 million adult Filipinos or about two-thirds of its population this year to reach herd immunity against COVID-19.