Nograles explains why PH won’t be left behind in COVID-19 vaccines despite global shortage

Published April 18, 2021, 11:40 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Despite the global shortage of coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) vaccines, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles assured the public that the Philippines will not be left behind because it kept its options open and not just relied on few sources.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Nograles made the statement a few days after President Duterte admitted that the Philippines was already facing uncertainty on where to get COVID-19 vaccines because of the global shortage of shots.

In an interview with Super Radyo DZBB, Nograles was asked if the government was considering making adjustments to its vaccine procurement strategy to ensure that the Philippines will not be left behind. In response, Nograles said the beauty of the government’s plan was it did not rely solely on few sources.

“Hindi tayo naging dependent sa isang bansa lamang. Hindi tayo naging dependent sa ilang vaccine manufacturers lamang (We were not dependent on just one country nor on just a few vaccine manufacturers). We had a portfolio of seven to eight vaccine manufacturers,” he said on Sunday.

“So kung naantala man ang pagsu-supply ng isang (So if there is a delay in the delivery from a) vaccine manufacturer, at least meron tayong ibang (we have other) options because it is really a worldwide battle for the supply. Nag-aagawan talaga (Everyone is fighting vaccines),” he added.

Nograles pointed out the Philippines being able to get vaccines from China and Russia while it was still waiting for vaccines from western countries, including the COVAX Facility of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We are left now with Russia and China… Importante rin yung pakikipag-usap ni Pangulong Duterte kay President Putin na ma-secure din natin yung doses natin from Russia (President Duterte’s recent conversation with President Putin was also important so we can secure vaccine doses from Russia),” he said.

“Over and above that, umaasa pa rin tayo sa WHO kasi pasok naman tayo sa COVAX Facility nila at meron naman po silang mga promise sa atin (we are still hopeful that the WHO will push through because we are qualified to be in the COVAX Facility and they promised us),” he added.

President Duterte had a 30-minute “telesummit” with President Putin on Tuesday and one of the things they discussed was the COVID-19 pandemic. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday, April 15, that the President will detail his phone call with Putin on his pre-recorded public address on the same day but that did not happen.

According to Nograles, the Philippines is expecting 500,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine this month. The government has already secured 20,000 doses of the said vaccine from the Gamaleya Research Institute.

“At least meron tayo nun at meron pa tayong inaasahan sa COVAX Facility kung darating (At least we have vaccines and we are still expecting doses from the COVAX Facility if ever they do arrive),” he said.

“But whether or not magkaroon ng mga delays dun sa COVAX, at least secure na tayo doon sa Sinovac tsaka sa Gamaleya (there will be delays in the delivery of COVAX Facility, at least we are now secured with vaccines from Sinovac and Gamaleya),” he added.

Meanwhile, the Palace official said there were vaccine manufacturers that still had pending applications with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, the country is expecting a total of 5.5 million doses in April from Sinovac, Gamaleya, and the COVAX Facility.

Some 8.9 million doses are expected to arrive in the country in May. These are from Sinovac, Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, the COVAX Facility, and Moderna.

In June, 11.5 million doses from Sinovac, Gamaleya, Novavax, and AstraZeneca are expected to enter the country.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is expecting 53.5 million vaccine doses to arrive in the country in the third quarter and 60 million doses in the fourth quarter. Another 140 million doses are also expected to come from the COVAX Facility.

The government is targeting to vaccinate 500,000 to 1 million people per week in April and May while this will double in June and July.