MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines may start inoculating COVID-19 vaccines to the public by May next year if everything will go according to plan, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, who was recently tapped to lead the importation and distribution program, said Thursday.
The government is looking to place an advance procurement of about 24 million vaccines within the first quarter of next year, said Galvez. The initial batch of vaccines will be for frontliners, indigents, and the vulnerable sectors, he said.
The inoculation rollout will largely depend on the financing, development and approval of the vaccines, he said.
"If everything will go well, ang mangyayari po is earliest is May," he told ANC's Headstart when asked about the vaccination timeline.
Should there be roadblocks on supply and demand, the earliest that the program may begin is by the end of 2021, he said.
"Ang vaccine roadmap po natin is 3 to 5 years. Posible din that you will look at the demand and supply ng vaccine. Before end of 2020, ang presentation sa atin ng World Bank, more or less, 1.4 billion lang ang mapo-produce ng vaccines," he said.
(Our vaccine roadmap spans 3 to 5 years. It's also possible to look at the demand and supply of the vaccine. The World Bank presentation indicates that before the end of 2020, only 1.4 billion vaccines will be produced.)
"Sa ngayon, so far, ang demand ng big countries ay more than that. Talagang magkakahirapan tayo sa demand and supply kaya we’re appealing to the WHO (World Health Organization) na bigyan ng equitable access," he added.
(The demand from big countries is more than that, so far. We will really have a hard time, that's why we're appealing to the WHO to ensure equitable access.)
The country has a "standby fund," which will enable the procurement "over and above" what could be allocated in next year's budget as approved by Congress, said Galvez.
The Department of Health on Wednesday reported 987 additional COVID-19 cases, the lowest recorded daily tally in almost 4 months. This brings the country’s total confirmed cases to 388,137.