MANILA – Due to high global demand, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday said 170,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the COVAX facility may finally arrive in the country by the second quarter of this year.
The initial batch was supposed to reach the Philippines in mid-February.
“We should not expect that Pfizer ay darating sa lalong madaling panahon dahil sa nakikita natin halos lahat ng bansa ang kinukuha nila ay ‘yung (We should not expect that Pfizer vaccines will arrive as soon as most of the countries have already ordered) Pfizer and Moderna and also AstraZeneca,” Galvez, who is also the country’s vaccine czar, said during a press briefing at the Philippine General Hospital.
He also cited President Rodrigo Duterte’s recommendation to prepare a standby stockpile of at least 2 million doses of China-made CoronaVac to enable the country to lift restrictions imposed since March last year when the pandemic began.
“Once we have that stockpile and we will maintain 2 to 5 million [doses], we can now convince the President to open the economy and also have the face-to-face education,” said Galvez, noting that the President realizes the economic contraction being caused by the health crisis.
“He is also sympathizing with the mayors na sa kanya buhay muna bago ang ekonomiya (because for him, lives must be saved first before the economy),” Galvez added.
The possible lifting of restrictions may happen within the second quarter this year, he said.
Galvez said once the government-procured AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, including the 6.5 million doses from the COVAX facility, arrive in May, the country’s stockpile may reach more or less 10 million doses, allowing the economy to gradually open and recover.
Road to normalcy
“Once we are able to gather enough volumes this year, we see that by mid-2022 we may sharply recover,” he said.
The vaccination campaign and ongoing negotiations for the procurement of additional doses will also contribute to the country’s recovery, he added.
The country will receive some 5.1 million doses of CoronaVac within the first quarter, intended for the inoculation of healthcare workers and other essential government front-liners. (PNA)