PH gov't seeks excess vaccines from US, Israel -- Galvez

The Philippine government has reached out to the United States (US) and Israel in hopes that these nations would spare their excess vaccines to Filipinos and protect them from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

(Photo by Oleg Vakhromov/ Unsplash)

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said Wednesday night, April 28, that letters of intent have already been sent by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to Washington and Jerusalem.

"Right now Mr. President, we are just having a hard time securing the volume in the first and second quarter. But I already talked to Ambassador Romualdez and he is now devising a plan so that the AstraZeneca vaccines from the US will be released to us. Secretary Duque wrote two letters of intent including one for Israel so we can access the excess of these countries," Galvez told President Duterte in a televised Cabinet meeting.

United States and Israel are ranked 1st and 18th, respectively, in terms of vaccinating its population, according to the COVID-19 vaccine tracker of Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said the United States has administered 232 million doses (36.2 percent of its population) of anti-COVID vaccines while Israel has injected 10.47 million doses (57.8 percent) as of April 28, 2021.

While Galvez admitted that the Philippines has been adversely affected by the high global demand for vaccines, he assured the public that the bulk of the jabs purchased by government will start arriving in the third quarter of the year.

He said 500,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines from Chinese manufacturer Sinovac Biotech will be delivered to the country on Thursday, April 29.

He said the delivery of the initial 15,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia was moved from the evening of April 28 to May 1 because of llogistical challenges. He explained that there were no flights available from Russia to the Philippines due to travel restictions imposed around the world.

For the month of May, the expected deliveries include one to two million doses of Sputnik V vaccines; and two million doses of CoronaVac vaccines.

Galvez also expressed optimism that the Covax facility will also resume its delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines to the country this month after it encountered delays due to supply shortage.

In June, at least five suppliers will deliver around nine to 10 million doses of COVID-19 jabs. Galvez noted that this will be the period when the country's vaccine situation would start to improve.

"Starting June, maganda na po dahil more or less may limang suppliers tayo kasama na ang Covax (Starting June, good because we will have more or less five suppliers including the Covax)," he said.

The deliveries for the said month include 194,000 doses of Moderna vaccines, 4.5 million doses of CoronaVac vaccines, two million doses of Sputnik V vaccines, 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines (from the donation of the private sector), and 2,355,210 doses of Pfizer vaccines from Covax.

"Pagdating po ng third quarter, dyan na po bubuhos ang supply dahil luluwag na ang ibang countries. Ang US more or less matatapos na and 60 percent or 70 percent ng kanyang population dahil bumababa na sila ngayon sa mga 16-years-old (By third quarter, there will be an overflowing supply because other countries will start easing ). US will more or less finish the of 60 to 70 percent of its population since they are now their 16-year-olds)," Galvez said.