Philippines eyes 4 coronavirus vaccines in first quarter 2021

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2020 03:44 PM | Updated as of Dec 17 2020 03:57 PM

Physician Alister Martin receives one of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from nurse Jennifer Lisciotti at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, US, Dec. 16, 2020. Craig F. Walker, Pool/Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines is eyeing to use 4 vaccines against the novel coronavirus by the first 3 months of 2021, Malacañang said on Thursday, even as the country has yet to receive emergency vaccine use applications for the drug.

The 4 vaccines that the Philippines hopes to use in the first quarter of 2021 are from Russia's Gamaleya Institute and China's Sinovac, Sinopharm and CanSino, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

By the second quarter, the Philippines expects to get its supply of the vaccine from British drug group AstraZeneca, 2.6 million doses of which have been secured by the private sector, Roque said. 

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Covax, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna are set to arrive in the third quarter, he told reporters in an online briefing.

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Roque's statement comes as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III faced allegations that he had "dropped the ball" in the supply negotiation with Pfizer, allegedly delaying 10 million doses of the vaccine that the Philippines could receive in January.

No drugmakers have so far applied for emergency use approval of their COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

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"Iyong assessment, evaluation and monitoring [ng vaccine], continuing naman po iyan. Pero sa planning, and'yan pa rin po tayo hanggang 2021, at saka nasa preparation stage na po tayo," said Roque. 

(The assessment, evaluation and monitoring of the vaccine is continuing. But the planning, we will be in that stage until 2021. We are also in the preparation stage.)

The vaccine distribution will prioritize areas with high COVID-19 caseloads. From these areas, indigents, vulnerable sectors, health workers, soldiers, police officers and other frontliners will be targeted for inoculation, he said.

Local governments are preparing for the following, in coordination with the health and interior departments, and the National Task Force against COVID-19, Roque said. 

Screenshot from slideshow of Office of the Press Secretary

The Philippines has tallied some 452,000 coronavirus infections as of Wednesday.