Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez on Monday said that he expects the first COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines to occur by the end of February.
At the Senate Committee of the Whole’s inquiry on the status of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, Galvez clarified that the initial rollout of the state’s vaccination program may happen by the end of February, contrary to earlier pronouncements it could occur earlier during that month.
Galvez made the assurance after Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson expressed his frustration over the government’s seeming lack of sense of urgency in buying the much-needed vaccines to start the nationwide inoculation program.
“Pwede bang i-share mo lang sa amin, kelan yung unang bakuna sa tantya mo?” Lacson asked Galvez.
To which Galvez responded: “It could be on third week or fourth week of February (2021).”
“Because the supply and demand is very volatile talaga sir. Delivery kasi…tinatawag namin na indicative dates…so meaning the indicative dates, it might fall early or delivery would be late by one week or two weeks. So it’s safe to say we may be having it on the last week of February,” Galvez explained to the panel.
Initially, Galvez said the vaccination dates would fall on Feb. 20. He later clarified he was referring to the expected delivery of the vaccines.
Galvez also rejected Lacson’s observation that the government has been very slow in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
“In fairness to Sec. Galvez, he is doing everything he can to fast track everything. Pero Sec. Galvez alam mo yung incompetence, like the coronavirus, is infectious. Nakakahawa yan,” Lacson pointed out.
“If you hung around with incompetent people, in the long run, mahahawa ka,” the senator reiterated.
“I beg to disagree sir. On time pa rin kami sir,” Galvez answered.
“The disposition on the Chinese vaccines (Sinovac)…we will have 25 million (doses) on time…and our timeline for the vaccine, for the vaccine that they will give to us is on time and we are very, very happy for the Chinese government,” he said.
Asked about the negotiations with Pfizer which Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. earlier said were bungled by the task force, Galvez said the DFA secretary had no knowledge of the transactions.
“Secretary Locsin doesn’t know the negotiations,” Galvez said.
“So you still maintain na wala tayong problema?” Lacson asked. To which Galvez responded: “Yes, sir, and actually we are very thankful to Pfizer.”
Lacson, however, pointed out that other countries have already started inoculating their population.
“Even Bangladesh, meron na silang 13 million doses. Tayong Pilipinas, hanggang ngayon wala pa. We’re still waiting,” he pointed out.