After some delays, the country finally received the latest batch of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine supply composed of 190,000 doses on Saturday night, September 18.
The Component 2 shipment of the Russian vaccine arrived at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) around 11 p.m. and will be used for second dose inoculation.
"Medyo nakahinga nang maluwag na ang ating mga mamamayan na naturukan ng Component 1 (Our fellowmen who were injected with Component 1 must have breathed a sigh of relief). We are apologizing for the delay of this Component 2 considering that we have some supply issues," said Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
The vaccines, which were supposed to have been delivered in August to early this month, will be allocated to areas that have received Component 1 such as Metro Manila, Bohol, Isabela, Bacoor in Cavite, and other places in Central Luzon (Region 3) and Calabarzon (Region 4A).
According to Galvez, the arrival of the supplies got delayed due to production issues of the manufacturer, Gamaleya Research Institute, and the sudden increase in the domestic supply of Russia due to a spike of cases.
He explained that Sputnik V uses two different adenovirus components: the adenovirus serotype 26 and a recombinant of adenovirus type 5 unlike other vaccines such as AstraZeneca which uses only the adenovirus serotype 26, hence, it is more difficult to produce.
"At the same time, nagkaroon sila ng domestic requirements and ang Russia nagkaroon din ng spikes (they had domestic requirements and Russia experienced spikes . Also, there are more than 50 countries that they are supplying," Galvez said.
Meanwhile, the vaccine czar said they will try to renegotiate the contract for the purchase of 10 million doses of Sputnik V to allow the shift to use of Sputnik Light, which is a single-dose vaccine like US-made Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
"We are now possibly focusing on Sputnik Light considering ang Sputnik Light is parang Johnson & Johnson ito, mas maganda makuha kasi mas madaling i-deploy sa geographically isolated areas (it's like Johnson & Johnson so it's better to acquire it since it's easier to deploy in geographically isolated areas)," Galvez said.
Russian Ambassador Marat Pavlov, who accompanied Galvez in welcoming the shipment, said the Russian government is considering to send a sizeable number of Sputnik Light to the Philippines.
"I think it's a good step to have a collaboration. We are discussing to send a huge amount to the Philippines," Pavlov stated.
The total vaccine supply now reached 59,359,810 doses which include 570,000 doses of government-procured Sputnik V.