MANILA — The government may take up to 5 years to finish its vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus, with 35 million Filipinos on the priority list, an official leading the country's pandemic response said Wednesday.
The Philippines is eyeing coronavirus vaccine supplies from 5 to 6 countries and hopes to "unlock" the funds for this by December, said Secretary Carlito Galves Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to finish studying the vaccines' clinical trials in the first quarter of 2021, he said in a government public briefing.
The "best case scenario" for the vaccine rollout's schedule is the second quarter of 2021 while the "worst or realistic" scenario is the end of or early 2022, said Galvez.
The government can vaccinate up to 20 million people per year, he said.
"Sa vaccination po natin ng (in our vaccination of) more or less 60 to 70 million [people], we will do this in a 3 to 5-year period," he added.
The Philippines will employ a geographical and sectoral strategy for distributing the future coronavirus vaccine, Malacañang said Tuesday, some 8 months into varying degrees of lockdown to curb the pandemic.
Priority will be given to COVID-19 "hotspots" such as Metro Manila, Davao City and Bacolod City, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
From these areas, indigents, vulnerable sectors, health workers, soldiers, police officers and other frontliners will be targeted for inoculation, he said.
Around 35 million people are in the government's vaccination "priority list," including health care workers, soldiers, policemen, essential workers from the government, vulnerable communities, and indigents, Galvez said.
Last week, Duterte approved advance payment to private vaccine developers to ensure that the Philippines would get a supply of the drug. He is also set to authorize emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines, said Roque.
The Philippines has tallied 421,722 coronavirus infections, 26,745 of which were active as of Tuesday.