MANILA — The arrival of the next batch of COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese manufacturer Sinovac will face a 2-week delay, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said Tuesday.
Because of the delay, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. urged local government units (LGUs) to use their remaining supply of Sinovac vaccines as second doses.
"We are encouraging all LGUs across the country to concentrate in ensuring their constituents are fully vaccinated and they have the full protection of the vaccines," Galvez said in a statement.
"Huwag po nating gamitin as first dose ang para sa second dose na Sinovac para masiguro na magkakaroon ng full protection ang ating mga kababayan na nakakuha na ng first dose," he said.
(Let's not use for first dose those vaccines that are for the second dose so we can ensure full protection for our citizens who have gotten their first dose.)
The delay came as several LGUs halted giving first doses due to a lack of supply of vaccines against COVID-19, which has sickened over 1.4 million in the country.
NTF Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said the next batch of Sinovac's vaccine is set to arrive on July 18.
"Although ginagawan ng paraan ni Sec. Galvez na mapaaga ito next week. Pero dahil nga sa delay ng shipment ng Sinovac, pinapa-prioritize natin sa ating mga LGUs, lalo sa NCR (National Capital Region) ang pag-administer ng second doses," he said in a press briefing.
(Secretary Galvez is finding a way for us to receive these vaccines next week. Because of the delay in the Sinovac shipment, our LGUs, especially in the NCR, are prioritizing to administer the second doses.)
Galvez appealed to the public for understanding.
"We should also understand that Sinovac also exhausted its supply for us," he said.
The cities of Marikina and Valenzuela have a week's worth of second doses left.
"Good pa naman kami hanggang next week ng second dose ng Sinovac… ‘Yong Sinovac na hindi makakaabot, ‘yon ay mare-resechedule… Umaasa kami na mabibigyan kami," said Dr. Angelito Llabres, who leads Marikina's COVID-19 response.
(Our supply for the second dose of Sinovac is still good until next week... Those who won't make it will be rescheduled... We're hoping we will receive vaccines.)
The health department earlier said the second dose of several COVID-19 vaccines may be administered as late as 6 months after the initial jab.
Meanwhile, the 1 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine donated to the country by the Japanese government are expected to arrive by Thursday.
The Philippines also expects to receive over 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which was donated by the United States through the COVAX Facility.
"These vaccine doses will allow us to keep the momentum of our rollout and significantly accelerate our output especially with the arrival of one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson," said Galvez.
The J&J vaccines will be allotted for those in the A2 and A3 priority groups or senior citizens and people with comorbidities, respectively, said Galvez.
The donated vaccines from Japan, meanwhile, can be used for all 5 priority groups.
As well, the government expects to receive 170,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, 250,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine and 1.17 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine ordered by the private sector by the first half of this month.
Pfizer has also notified the NTF that it would deliver this month an initial 938,340 doses that the government purchased.
Of the figure, 562,770 doses will be delivered on July 19, while 375,570 doses will be received on July 26.
The government aims to inoculate at least 58 million of the country's population by the end of the year.
The Philippines has already administered more than 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dizon.