MANILA – The government is eyeing to roll out the vaccination for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as early as March 2021, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Wednesday night.
“Ngayon po nakita po namin, sir, mga pinaka-earliest po ay March po. Nine-negotiate po namin sa ambassador of China (As we see sir, the earliest [roll out] would be March. We are negotiating with the ambassador of China),” Galvez told President Rodrigo Duterte in a public briefing.
Galvez said the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac and Russia’s Gamaleya will be the first companies to deliver a bulk of government-procured Covid-19 vaccines in the first quarter of 2021.
“Kung titingnan po natin ito po ang magiging projection po natin sa potential rollout, kung magiging successful tayo po sa Sinovac at saka Gamaleya kasi initial [ano] po nila puwede sila sa first quarter (If we look at it, our projection for the potential roll-out, if we will have successful [negotiations] with Sinovac and Gamaleya because they initially target [to deliver] in the first quarter),” Galvez added.
The government, he said, will be getting 60 million doses from Sinovac, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, J&J, Gamaleya, and Novavax.
“Available po ‘yan 2021 kasi ang mangyayari po in tranches kasi po ang pagka po nagkaroon tayo ng kontrata (That will be available by 2021 because it will be procured by tranches, once we get the contracts), they will prepare ‘yung (the) manufacturing. It will take three to six months po ang (for) manufacturing po,” Galvez said.
The mini roll-out of the vaccination will be done by the first quarter, he said.
He added the bulk of vaccines are expected to arrive by May, June, and July.
Galvez said the government’s vaccine experts along with the health and technical advisory groups (HTAG) are also assessing various track records of the vaccine manufacturers.
“Sa (In the) end of the second quarter at saka (and in the) beginning of third-quarter doon po tayo magkakaroon ng mga (we could have) more or less mga siguro magkakaroon tayo ng mga 10 to 15 million na bulto po (10 to 15 million bulk of vaccines),” he said.
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea appealed to those criticizing the government’s initiatives to procure Covid-19 vaccine “to wait.”
“Gusto ko lang pong umapela, Mahal na Pangulo, sa mga bumabatikos sa—sa pag-aaral natin sa pagbibili ng vaccine. Maghintay naman po sana sila (I would like to appeal, Mr. President, those criticizing our studies to buy the vaccine. Please just wait),” Medialdea said.
He noted that Galvez’s ability to address the pandemic has been tested since the start of the health crisis.
“We started from nothing. Hindi natin alam anong kinakalaban natin (we never know what we are fighting against) but it turned out that we had good results after meeting our problems—ngayon nagingibabaw ho tayo, isa sa pinakamaganda ang ating sistema sa paglaban sa pandemic (now we are dominating, our system to fight pandemic is one of the best,” he said.
Medialdea is optimistic the vaccination rollout would be successful.
“Iyon lang ho hinihingi natin sa mga bumabatikos. Maghintay-hintay lang po at sa madaling panahon makikita niyo rin ang resulta kagaya noong nakita natin na resulta noong nilalabanan natin ang (I am asking those who are criticizing. Just wait and soon you will see the result, the same result when we fought the) pandemic with limited tools on hand,” he said.
Medialdea reiterated that the government has enough money to continue providing free tests for the marginalized sector while waiting for the Covid-19 vaccine to become available. (PNA)