PH to get more COVID vaccines from the US

NEEDED OUCH. The COVID-19 shot could sting a bit but is nothing compared to the protection it will give this female vaccine at the Wack Wack Golf & Country Club in Mandaluyong City on Monday, June 21, 2021. Priority recipients, including club members and employees, availed of their first doses. | PNA photo by Dexter Starks

THE Philippines will get more COVID-19 vaccines from the United States following the announcement of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden pledging 80 million of its surplus vaccine doses to various countries.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, the Philippines will be “among priority countries” receiving U.S.-donated vaccines.

“The Biden-Harris administration has announced that the Philippines will be among priority recipient countries to receive a portion of the latest 55 million tranche of U.S. government-donated COVID-19 vaccine doses,” the embassy told reporters on Tuesday, June 22.

The country will receive the vaccines through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility as well as through direct donation.

“This is in addition to the Philippines’ allocation under the previous June 3 announcement of the first 25 million U.S. vaccine doses to be shared globally, as pledged earlier by President Biden to help end the pandemic,” the embassy added.

Previously, the White House announced that an initial batch of 25 million doses will be donated by the U.S., of which 19 million doses will be shared through the COVAX facility. Meanwhile, approximately 6 million will be shared directly with countries experiencing surges as well as partners and neighbors of the U.S.

Included in the 19 million doses shared through COVAX are the 7 million doses that will be distributed to the Philippines and other regions in Asia.

For his part, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said the country could receive Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines from the U.S.’ surplus.

“Doon sa 80 million na yun (Of the 80 million), we’re going to get something like close to 800(000) to 1 million na doses, either Moderna or AstraZeneca, from their stockpile which is expected to be given to us by next month,” he said in a media briefing on Tuesday.

The Philippines is set to receive its first batch of Moderna vaccines over the weekend, following delays in deliveries.

According to Romualdez, the country will receive the first batch of Moderna’s 20 million doses on Sunday, June 27.

“June 27, sigurado na ‘yan. 100 percent (June 27, that’s sure. 100 percent),” he said in an interview with Teleradyo on Monday, June 21.

“Kausap namin almost every day this past week. Nagkaroon lang nang problema dun sa storage facility at dun sa kanilang transportation diyan. (We were talking with [the drug firm] almost every day this past week. There had only been a problem with the storage facility and their transportation),” he added.

In March, the Philippines signed a supply agreement with Moderna for 20 million doses of its vaccine.

The country’s vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. signed a tripartite agreement with the private sector-led by business tycoon Enrique Razon, chairman of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), and Moderna senior vice president.

Under the agreement, 13 million doses of the Moderna vaccine will go to the Philippine government sector, while seven million doses will go to the private sector.

Over the weekend, the Philippine government signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Galvez on Sunday, June 20, announced that the deal was signed by him and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“We are very happy to report that the government and the management of Pfizer have finally concluded our negotiations. Secretary Duque and I signed yesterday the supply agreement for the biggest and most decisive deal we had for 2021,” he said.

“I would like to thank my colleagues from the Philippine vaccine negotiating team from the Department of Finance and our multilateral partner for tirelessly working to secure these much-needed shots that will benefit 20 million Filipinos,” he added.

The procurement of the vaccine doses will be financed through a multilateral arrangement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

According to Galvez, the 40 million doses will start by August, to be delivered in bulk.

“The vaccine demand has begun to ease up for many big and rich countries, as most of them have already acquired more than enough vaccines for their population and have vaccinated many of their citizens. This has allowed the manufacturer to commit to us that deliveries, though still to be made in tranches, will be in bulk,” the vaccine czar said.

Currently, the Philippines has secured 113 million doses, of which 26 million doses are from Sinovac, 10 million doses from Sputnik V, 20 million doses from Moderna, 17 million doses from AstraZeneca, and 40 million doses from Pfizer.

In addition, the COVAX facility committed to delivering a total of 44 million doses to the country this year.

“The vaccines from Pfizer will significantly boost our national immunization program and will enable us to realize our goal of achieving herd immunity by year-end. This is another positive development that will give a happy and better Christmas for all Filipinos,” Galvez noted.

So far, the country has administered more than 8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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