Ambassadors assure more COVID vaccine supply coming by mid-year

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The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine, consisting of 487,200 doses under the COVAX facility, arrived in Manila on March 4, 2021. — PCOO

THE Philippines is expected to receive the initial batch of coronavirus vaccines developed by Amerian firm Moderna Inc. by June or earliest in late-May, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said on Friday.

“We’re hoping to have the first delivery by either end of May or early part of June,” he said in a televised news briefing. “That’s our target.”

The Philippine government earlier announced that the possible arrival of Moderna vaccines will be in the third quarter of the year.

Mr. Romualdez said Manila has already concluded its supply agreement with the American pharmaceutical company. He is confident that the delivery would be no later than the second quarter as Washington has doubled up its vaccine production.

“We’re threshing out the supply kung kailan nila puwedeng i- (when they can) deliver itong Moderna,” he said.

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The Philippine government, along with the private sector, has signed a deal with Moderna to secure 20 million vials of its vaccine against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The supply agreement was financed by the World Bank.

Mr. Romualdez said the doses will be divided among private firms, the central government, and local governments.

“Almost half of that will go to the private sector and their employees. And then the other half will go to our health workers and the rest of the Filipinos that will be receiving the Moderna through the LGUs (local government units) and other entities in the Philippines,” he said.

At the same briefing, the envoy said Manila will take delivery of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines developed by another American drugmaker, Pfizer Inc., “within the next couple of weeks.”

Mr. Romualdez said Johnson and Johnson has also committed to provide six million doses to Manila, although it has yet to give a definite date of delivery as vaccine manufacturers in the US have answered to the call of President Joe Biden to inoculate all American adults by the end of May.

The envoy assured that Washington will deliver on its commitment to supply coronavirus vaccines to other countries as it is “back in the WHO (World Health Organization) and they are also contributing to the COVAX facility (which) will give access to most countries especially the Philippines.”

BRITISH ENVOY

The Philippines on Thursday received its first shipment of AstraZeneca shots, consisting of 487,200 doses, supplied under the WHO’s global initiative for equal vaccine access.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel R. Pruce said the arrival in the Philippines of the COVID-19 vaccines developed by British-Swede drugmaker AztraZeneca will be followed by over 20 million more doses.

“Around 23 million doses of AztraZeneca vaccine should arrive in the country this year,” Mr. Pruce said in a video message on Friday.

The total includes around five million under the COVAX facility and the rest are covered by the tripartite agreements with the national government and local governments, or private sector.

The British government is one of the largest donors of COVAX, giving GBP548 million to the facility.

“I don’t know how to express my gratitude to the donor countries that you remembered the poor nations is in fact already a plus for humanity,” said President Rodrigo R. Duterte during the AstraZeneca arrival ceremony late Thursday.

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