MANILA— The head of the Philippines' National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 on Wednesday said the country has sufficient coronavirus vaccine supply, as authorities expand its immunization program this month.
NTF Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. assured local government units (LGUs) that they would receive "the bulk" of recent vaccine deliveries in the country.
The Philippines accepted nearly 16.4 million virus jabs in the first 2 weeks of the month alone, he said.
The country has so far received a total of nearly 87.7 million shots since the vaccination program started earlier this year.
"The National Task Force Against COVID-19 is focused on ensuring the equitable and timely distribution of vaccines among LGUs nationwide with the arrival of bigger vaccine deliveries in the country," the statement read.
"Supply is no longer an issue for our country as of this time, as we now have adequate vaccines in our national inventory. We thus enjoin all LGUs to further scale up their vaccination throughput," he added.
Galvez's response came after Rep. Joey Salceda urged the government to have "more vaccinations in lagging regions" such as the Bangsamoro and Bicol.
Salceda explained that while reopening the economy is key for the country's recovery, some areas in the Philippines do not have equal access to vaccines.
“I disagree that only reopenings in key regions like [National Capital Region] will be the necessary step... In Bicol, we are just still at 10 percent vaccination rate,” the lawmaker from Albay said.
“The simple fact of the matter is that we get our food from the provinces. If they’re still not out of the woods with COVID-19, you are going to have problems, no matter how high the vaccination rate is in NCR,” Salceda added.
But Galvez said Albay province still has over 19,000 Sinovac shots and more than 24,000 Pfizer doses unused as of Sunday, based on the data they gathered from the National Vaccination Operation Center (NVOC).
More COVID-19 jabs are also on the way to the province.
"Deliveries are now ongoing for 26,920 Sinovac doses and 16,380 Pfizer doses since October 11. These vaccines are for first and second doses," he said.
"The province also stands to receive 28,000 Moderna vaccines, which consist of first and second doses."
In early October, the United States government announced donating more than 5.5 million Pfizer shots to the Philippines this month through vaccine-sharing platform COVAX. These will be delivered in 5 tranches, a US official said.
The Chinese government, meanwhile, said another 1 million Sinovac shots will arrive in the country next week as part of their donations.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech make up a great portion of the Philippines' coronavirus vaccine supply, which includes at least 1 million donated doses.
To date, nearly 23.8 million individuals have been fully vaccinated in the Philippines, while more than 27.1 million have been partially immunized from COVID-19, data from the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.