MANILA – Vaccines manufactured by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Sinovac are expected to arrive in the country by February 20, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Wednesday night.
“Nakausap namin kahapon ang COVAX facility. May possibility po na February po na magdala po ang COVAX dito, WHO at saka UNICEF ng Pfizer (We spoke to the COVAX facility yesterday. There is a possibility in February, that COVAX alongside the World Health Organization and UNICEF might bring here the vaccines from Pfizer),” Galvez told President Rodrigo Durterte during his regular public address.
“Ang Sinovac po ay darating din po ng February 20. (Some) 50,000 initially and then dadagdagan po sila ng 950,000 sa susunod na buwan at 2 million sa susunod na mga buwan (Sinovac will also arrive on Feb. 20, around 50,000 initially and then around 950,000 will be added next month and 2 million in the coming months),” he added.
Meanwhile, Galvez said preparations of the logistical requirement for vaccine deployment are underway.
It is expected to be ready by January 30, he added, to make sure the country is prepared for the arrival of the first batch of vaccines.
Galvez said the government will conduct a series of inspections next week, to ensure the country’s preparedness for vaccine deployment.
It will also check the storage capacities of the country’s cold chain facilities for vaccines.
Galvez said these facilities are located at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), University of the Philippines (UP), and San Lazaro Hospital.
They will also check the cold chain facilities privately-owned by pharmaceutical companies Zuellig and Unilab.
The government’s preparations for vaccine deployment include training of vaccinators, mobilization of security forces, and readying partner-stakeholders, he added.
Vaccine storage, distribution
Galvez said Covid-19 jabs that require -70°C and -20°C temperatures, such as Pfizer and Moderna, will be stored in the country’s major storage hubs in Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu.
While vaccines requiring 2°C–8°C such as Sinovac, Johnson&Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Novavax vaccines can be deployed in the far-flung communities.
“Ang strategy po na ‘yan, hindi po natin inimbento. ‘Yan po ay strategy na ginawa ng mga naunang nag-rollout, katulad ng U.S., U.K., at Indonesia (We did not invent that strategy because it has been done by countries that have already rolled out their vaccination campaigns such as Indonesia, United States, and the United Kingdom),” Galvez said.
As the government pushed through negotiations with six vaccine developers, Galvez said about 137 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been secured.
“Puwede pong umakyat ‘yan na 172 — sa 172. Hindi pa po kasama diyan ang 42 million doses para po sa COVAX kasi bibigyan po tayo ng COVAX ng (It could increase up to 172 doses. This is apart from 42 million doses under COVAX facility negotiations which could vaccinate about) 20 percent country’s population,” he added.
Under the COVAX facility, Galvez said the government can guarantee access to a portfolio of vaccines and doses for at least 22 million Filipinos.
He said the government is negotiating with pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax and J&J, to deliver vaccines as early as the first quarter of the year so that the country could initially rollout the vaccination program by the first quarter.
“So ang gagawin lang po natin is gagawa po tayo ng magandang Gantt chart at saka ‘yung synchronization matrix. I-synchronize lang po natin na pagdating natin kaagad, i-deploy natin po kaagad (We will make a Gantt chart and a synchronization matrix to synchronize it. Once they arrive, they will immediately be deployed),” Galvez said.
Galvez also urged local government units (LGUs) to start preparing for the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines by next month.
He said LGUs serve as “grassroots implementer” for the nationwide vaccination program.
“The implementation of the national vaccine program is not the sole responsibility of the government. This is the reason why the whole-of-government, whole-of-nation approach shall be adopted maximizing manpower, expertise, processes to ensure coordinated and greater implementation of the Covid-19 immunization program,” Galvez said.
He said the government will assist LGUs which cannot afford to procure vaccines for their constituents.
“‘Yung mga probinsya at mayors na hindi makakabili, kami po ang magbibigay ng vaccine. At saka po ‘yung mga kulang ng iba, kami po ang magpupuno (Those provinces and towns which cannot procure their vaccines, we will provide the vaccines. And when others lack supply, we will fill that gap),” he said.
The government will also shoulder other requirements including syringes, cotton, cold chain storage, and sets of personal protective equipment (PPE), he said.
Galvez said the government has earmarked a total of PHP82.5 billion for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and other logistic requirements. (PNA)