The delivery of the initial batch of COVID-19 vaccines "Sputnik V" procured by the government from Russia was delayed "due to logistical challenges," Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. confirmed on Wednesday, April 28
"We would like to inform the public that the expected arrival of 15,000 pilot run doses of Gamaleya's Sputnik V tonight, April 28, has been postponed due to logistical challenges on the shipment of the vaccines," said Galvez, vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force on COVID-19.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made a similar confirmation, citing challenges which resulted from the lack of direct flights from Russia. He also mentioned issues on the storage of the vaccines that require below zero degree Celsius temperature during the duration of the flight.
The NTF released an advisory on Tuesday night which stated that the vaccines manufactured by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia will arrive via Qatar Airways from Doha to Manila at around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.
The vaccines require a storage with a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius and below (frozen solution).
Asked why the NTF did not anticipate issues on the storage of the vaccines prior to the scheduled date of delivery, NTF spokesperson Restituto Padilla said: "This is a matter for the Russian shipper to answer."
Nonetheless, Galvez said the NTF will give an update when the vaccines will be delivered as soon as they receive an advice from the Russian Direct Foreign Investment Fund (RDIF).
The country was supposed to receive 500,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines that it bought from Russia for the month of April.
An initial 15,000 doses was initially set for delivery on April 22 but it had been moved to April 28, which again was postponed to a later date.
The initial doses were supposed to be used in a "mini" rollout of the Russian-made vaccines in the country, that is hounded by the shortage in the supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Sputnik V is taken in two doses, 21 days apart, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The DOH said it is proven to be 91.6 effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection 21 days after a vaccinee is injected with the first dose. It is also 100 percent effective against moderate and severe cases, the DOH added.
It can also be given to senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, according to the DOH.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization to Sputnik V on March 19, 2021.
However, Brazil's health regulator Anvisa reportedly rejected the importation of Sputnik V vaccines earlier this week due to "inherent risks" and "serious" defects.
The official Sputnik V Twitter account hit back at Anvisa and said the decision to block the importation of the Russian-made vaccines was due to "political reasons."