While two government officials close to President Duterte have started announcing the arrival if vaccines from British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on March 4, the man in charge of procuring the vaccines for the Philippines would not join the excitement.
And his reason is valid. “I cannot confirm yet kasi dalawang beses na kaming nakuryente dyan (I cannot confirm yet because we got the wrong information twice already),” said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 after witnessing the vaccine rollout at St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City in Taguig City.
Senator Christopher Lawrence Go and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive in the country on Thursday evening.
Go told reporters that 487,200 AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive as part of the initial batch of deliveries from the Covax facility.
Roque also made a similar announcement, saying that the jabs were scheduled to arrive in the country around 7:30 p.m. But Galvez said that he will only be sure that the AstraZeneca jabs will be delivered once the shipment leaves its manufacturing site in Belgium.
“Ang ano namin, kapag lumipad na ang aircraft sa Belgium, that’s the time that we can confirm (For us, once the aircraft from Belgium leaves [for delivery], that’s the time that we can confirm),” he said.
The delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines –525,600 doses of them– were supposed to take place last Monday, in time for the national government’s vaccine rollout, but Galvez said it was delayed due to supply shortage and logistical problems.
Vaccine donations from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. were used to inoculate medical healthworkers and Cabinet officials during the initial rollout as the government encouraged the public to get vaccinated to eradicate the threat of COVID-19.
During the vaccine rollout, around 100 medical frontliners from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City and Quezon City took the vaccine shots from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. They were led by Dr. Arturo Dela Pena, the hospital’s chief executive.