Despite the challenges in acquiring vaccines, especially the limited global supply, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., assured that the government is exerting all efforts to secure coronavirus jabs for all Filipinos.
“Sa ngayon po (so far), most probably baka magkaroon po tayo ng (we are expecting to acquire the) vaccine ng (in the) first quarter, most probably by March, and then also, ang mga (the acquisition of the) second tranche is [in the] second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter,” Galvez said Thursday.
He earlier noted that about 80 percent of the available vaccines globally have already been procured by rich countries, resulting in limited supplies hence, the Philippines is experiencing slight delays in vaccine deliveries due to “global logistics constraints.”
A New York Times (NYT) report published March 31 said “86 percent of shots that have gone into arms worldwide have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Only .1 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.”
The same NYT report, based on data compiled by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef), added that “low-income countries made their first significant vaccine purchase agreements in January 2021 – eight months after the United States and the United Kingdom made their first deals.”
PH 48th among 141 countries in vaccination
The Task Group on Diplomatic Engagement and Negotiation, Galvez said, showed the Philippines is 48th among 141 countries in terms of administering the Covid-19 vaccine, as of March 30.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is ranked third behind Indonesia and Singapore, according to financial and media company Bloomberg’s tracker.
Bloomberg data showed that more than 590 million doses have been administered across 141 countries, enough to vaccinate 3.9 percent of the global population.
The latest rate was approximately 15.3 million doses daily.
The NTF reported some 738,913 doses have been administered to priority groups, such as healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
Of this number, 68 percent, equivalent to 737,569, received the first dose, while 1,344 or 0.1 percent have completed two doses.
Around 58 percent of 1,468,200 on-hand vaccines have also been distributed to 2,596 vaccination sites nationwide.
“With the recent arrival of 1 million doses of procured vaccines, the total number of available doses have doubled, and doses distributed throughout the country have significantly increased, with a total of 1,468,200 doses delivered,” the NTF said in Viber message.
It targets to expand the vaccination of more priority groups in the next coming weeks.
NTF added that the current deployment of the vaccine is limited to priority groups A1 (medical front-liners) and A3 (aged 18 to 59 with comorbidities) who were given the option to choose between CoronaVac and AstraZeneca, while the priority group A2 (elderly) will receive AstraZeneca.
Galvez assured that the nationwide vaccine rollout “is doing good amid the limited supply.”
The country’s vaccination rate has increased from 35,000 within the first week of March to 271,459 this week.
“Ibig sabihin, ‘yung capacity natin (That means, our capacity) to inoculate will go on exponentially with the availability of more vaccines in different local government units,” he added.
Bulk of vaccines
The government expects to secure the bulk of Covid-19 vaccines by the third quarter of this year, once ongoing negotiations with pharmaceutical companies push through.
“Based on our current negotiations, we will be able to purchase at least 148 million doses from more or less seven manufacturers. However, it will be dependent on the global supply,” Galvez said.
Around 800,000 out of 1.4 million doses of CoronaVac vaccines, he said, will be deployed in areas under enhanced community quarantine, such as Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal.
The shipment of 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine initially procured by the private companies are expected to arrive in May
The government is also finalizing supply agreements with pharmaceutical firms Johnson&Johnson of the United States and Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia by the second week of April, he added.
The government has already sealed supply deals with Sinovac, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Novavax. (PNA)