The country is set to receive the first wave of Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca coronavirus disease 2019 vaccines from the Covax facility starting mid-February.
In a letter addressed to the Department of Health, Covax facility managing director Aurélia Nguyen said their office will distribute 117,000 doses of Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine, and 5,500,800 to 9,290,400 indicative doses of AstraZeneca AZD1222 vaccine to the Philippines, subject to the Unicef Supply Division and Pan American Health Organization establishing supply agreements with the manufacturers.
Covax is a global initiative that ensures rapid and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for all countries regardless of their income level.
Nguyen said the delivery of the vaccines within the timeframe would also be subject to the completion of the distribution requirements.
These are indemnity and liability frameworks, including the required legislative framework in place, and execution and providing documentation of national regulatory approval or proof of recognition or reliance on another type of regulatory approval, import license, and signed indemnity and liability agreement.
“We will be regularly communicating updates on expected doses and remain confident that we will be able to meet our commitment to you by the end of 2021,” Nguyen said.
The DOH said the country will continue to receive vaccine allocation for 20 percent of the population from Covax.
It noted that only 15 percent will be free and the remaining 5 percent will be paid by the government.
The agency also assured the public that the budget for the 5 percent has been secured.
National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., also lauded the expected arrival of the first wave of vaccines.
Galvez said at least 5.6 million vaccine doses produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca are expected to arrive in the country within the first quarter of this year to jumpstart the country’s national vaccination program as part of global efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Galvez said the vaccines under Covax “can now inoculate our healthcare workers, medical-related personnel, and other front-liners”.
Over the past week, the Covid-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (Code) team has been visiting cities in Metro Manila to monitor the ongoing preparations being carried out by local government units and the private sector for the arrival of the vaccines, specifically the crafting of their respective local vaccine implementation plans.
The team is scheduled to visit other areas across the country in the coming weeks, especially that the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Covid-19 vaccines has been finally approved for immediate implementation.
Galvez said the team has seen the preparedness of many LGUs and the private sector for the vaccine rollout – from their vaccination sites, to their cold storage equipment and facilities, to their personnel.
He expressed hope that these kinds of preparations will be replicated nationwide.
Galvez expressed assurance anew that the government will secure the targeted 148 million doses of safe, effective, and free vaccine to inoculate 70 million people by 2021 and realize the Philippines’ goal of achieving herd immunity within this year.
He urged Filipinos to set their fears aside and have themselves inoculated once these vaccines are available.
He also cited the importance of the so-called “vaccine plus”, or the strict observance of minimum health standards – the wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene.*PNA