One million doses of Sinovac vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were delivered to the country on Friday morning, July 23, raising the local stockpile of the life-saving jabs to over 30.9 million doses.
The shipment carrying the Chinese-made vaccines arrived around 7:35 a.m. via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 723 at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City.
In a statement, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the total number of vaccines that have been recieved by the Philippines since February stood at 30,985,130 doses.
Of these, 17 million doses are Sinovad; 6,858,900 doses are AstraZeneca; 3,240,850 are Johnson & Johnson; 3,034,980 doses are Pfizer; 500,400 doses are Moderna; and 350,000 doses are Sputnik V.
Galvez said the national government will formulate a “transition plan” that would enable the country to secure a stable and sustainable supply of COVID-19 vaccines “beyond 2021.”
“We need to have an annual vaccination program. Hindi ito pwedeng (We cannot afford a) one-shot, big shot (program). It should be framed in a sense that it’s a multi-year plan until the elimination of the disease,” he explained.
Galvez said that the plan will be carried out in phases to ensure its efficiency.
He said the goal of the first phase is to achieve “population protection” in a particular city, municipality, or region, possibly via “geographical setting” in order to contain the disease.
Population protection refers to the reduction of cases through vaccination.
Once it is achieved, Galvez said “herd immunity” will follow leading to “the complete downfall and very controlled [number] of the cases.”
Herd immunity refers to a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease.
“Lastly will be our “exit strategy” which is disease elimination. This needs to be phased and at the same time, a multi-year plan,” added the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer.
Although the vaccine czar did not elaborate on the so-called exit strategy, he mentioned in previous interviews that the country has been coordinating with other nations to enable the Philippines to manufacture its own vaccine in preparation for similar health crises in the future.
“By 2023, we envision self-sufficiency and readiness for the next pandemic, and other disasters, with the modernization and integration of our healthcare system, in order to completely bridge our country from the valley of death from various fatal diseases,” he said back in April.