News Release

Gov’t may start immunization next month, says country’s vaccine czar

The government may start giving the first COVID-19 jab next month with vaccines provided by the COVAX Facility, the country’s vaccine czar said on Wednesday.

COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It aims to provide innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

“May possibility po na February po na magdala po ang COVAX dito, WHO at saka UNICEF ng Pfizer,” Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. told President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting in Malacañang.

Galvez, the nation’s vaccine czar and also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, also said the country expects to receive on February 20, 50,000 doses from China’s Sinovac. An additional 950,000 doses will arrive a month after and then two million more in the succeeding months.

The government’s negotiations with Pfizer Inc is also doing well, according to Galvez. There’s a possibility, he said, that Pfizer could provide the Philippines additional allocation, giving the country more or less 25 to 40 million doses, one of the biggest the country can get from a supplier.

“At natutuwa po kami dahil kasi hindi po tayo iniwan ng Pfizer at may commitment po sila na baka magkaroon po pagka nagpirmahan po tayo baka, hopefully, kung mayroon silang excess from US at other countries puwede pong mai-deliver ‘to sa atin,” he told the President.

Galvez also reported that the private sector and several of the country’s LGUs have inked a deal with AstraZeneca for the supply of more or less 17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine will be delivered in the second semester of this year, most likely July, August, or September, he said.

The government is also in the final stages of its negotiations with drug maker Johnson & Johnson for the provision of a single jab vaccine. A tested vaccine manufacturer, J&J developed the vaccine for Ebola when it ravaged several African countries.

The Philippine government is also negotiating a deal with American bio-technology company Moderna.

Talks with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, through the Russian Direct Investment Fund, is also running smoothly, Galvez said. Gamaleya promised to deliver 50 to 100 million doses to the Philippines.

“Iyon po ang negotiation natin kaya po secured na natin ang 137 million doses para next year. Puwede pong umakyat ‘yan sa 172 (million). Hindi pa po kasama diyan ang 42 million doses para po sa COVAX kasi bibigyan po tayo ng COVAX ng 20 percent countries’ population. Libre po ‘yan, Mr. President,” Galvez said.

“‘Yung sa COVAX po na ‘yan, WHO at saka ‘yung UNICEF and then Gavi, either ang ibibigay po sa atin Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax and J&J.” PND