Malacañang said the COVAX Facility will start delivering the AstraZeneca coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines late this month.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the national government finally submitted the required indemnification agreement to vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and AstraZeneca following the delay of the delivery caused by the absence of such an agreement.
The Philippines is set to receive a total of from 5,500,800 to 9,290,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX Facility within the first half of the year.
The country is also set to receive 117,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines but Roque said in his Thursday presser that the delivery could be delayed further due to requirements such as sub-zero transportation and logistics on the part of the COVAX Facility.
“Nagbigay naman po sila ng abiso na talagang baka ma-delay po (The COVAX Facility gave notice that there will really be a delay in the delivery),” he said.
Likewise, the delivery of the coronavirus vaccines developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech may be delayed as delivery will only be made after the company secures an approval from local drug regulators.
Roque said Sinovac has decided to wait for the emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before sendingthe vaccine supplies to the country.
Sinovac has already filed an application for emergency approval for its vaccines before the FDA. But the drug regulator reportedly could not yet decide on the application due to incomplete documents.
The Palace had earlier announced that around 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by China are expected to arrive in the country on Feb. 23.
Roque claimed then that the arrival of the Chinese donated vaccines was already “etched in stone.”
The government had previously secured 25 million doses of COVID-19 doses from Sinovac under a term sheet. The initial supply was expected to arrive this month and the rest will arrive in batches from March until December.
Despite the delays, Roque said the timetable can still be followed and all vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility could still be delivered within the month of July.
Roque said the Philippines has finished complying with all the requirements set by the COVAX Facility before vaccines can be delivered.
The COVAX Facility has required all participants to give authorization for the use of vaccines, to sign indemnification agreements with the manufacturers, and to submit National Deployment and Vaccination Plans through the COVID-19 Partners Platform, which would then be reviewed and validated by COVAX.
The Philippines has issued EUAs to both Pfizer and AstraZeneca and has submitted its vaccine rollout plan.
The national government completed the requirements on February 17 with the submission of the required indemnification agreement to the two vaccine manufacturers.
The COVAX Facility, which the Philippines joined, is a mechanism led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that is designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.