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Gov’t eyes vaccine jabs by February

National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said yesterday the government might begin to inoculate Filipinos against Covid-19 by the “third or fourth week” of February.

During the Senate inquiry on the government’s vaccination plan, Galvez said the initial vaccination of priority sectors might be pursued next month.

However, he did not divulge which brand of Covid-19 vaccines will be used for the inoculation.

Galvez said the initial batch of Covid jabs is expected to be delivered by Feb. 20.

At the Senate hearing, Senator Win Gatchalian asked what pharmaceutical companies the government has chosen for the vaccination campaign.

Galvez told Gatchalian that the government has already confirmed orders of vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies including Novavax, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Covax.

The government has already secured 40 million vaccines from Novavax Inc., 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines, and 40 million doses of Covax vaccines, Galvez said.

He added that the government has also ongoing negotiations with other pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer Inc., Johnson&Johnson, Moderna, and Russia’s Gamaleya.

Galvez said the government is targeting to close deals with other pharmaceutical companies on Jan. 11, to secure more doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the country.

“If we will able to lock-in all the documents, two weeks from now. This week we will have the signing maybe with J&J, with AstraZeneca, and also hopefully with Pfizer. All-in-all we can have at least 100 million doses and if we will be successful in our negotiation and consummate all the vaccines we can have 144 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine,” Galvez said.

Malacañang also confirmed that the Philippines has secured the first 25 million doses of vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a regular virtual Palace press briefing that the first 50,000 of the 25 million vaccine doses will arrive next month aside from 15,000 to be used for Sinovac’s clinical trials in the country.

“At least 65,000 will be inoculated by February,” he said.

He stressed that the Sinovac vaccine is “proven safe” with 91.25 percent efficacy rate, based on late-stage clinical trials.

“There’s nothing spectacular about Sinovac other than it’s been proven safe and efficient,” Roque said

He said Sinovac will deliver additional 950,000 doses of vaccines in March, one million doses in April, one million doses in May, and two million doses in June until all 25 million doses are delivered by December this year.

“By June and July, the vaccines of Pfizer and AstraZeneca will arrive,” Roque said.

Roque also said some 30 million of the Indian-made Covovax vaccines would be delivered by the third quarter.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office has also announced that the SII is now coordinating with US-based Novovax Inc. to develop and commercialized Covovax, which is now on third stage trials and expected to be approved for use by the international regulators.

The PCOO said the Covovax vaccine will be used to inoculate 15 million Filipinos belonging to the vulnerable and poor sectors.

Roque said the priority areas for Covid-19 vaccination include Metro Manila, the Cordillera Administrative Region, Calabarzon, Davao Region, and Cebu City. As for the priority sectors, Roque said healthcare workers, uniformed personnel, and indigent citizens top the list.*PNA

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