Gov’t seals deal for 40M doses of Pfizer vaccine

THE PHILIPPINES has sealed a deal for 40 million doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer, Inc., the country’s vaccine czar announced on Sunday, calling it the biggest order secured for this year.

Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said deliveries are expected “after eight weeks starting August.”

“We are very happy to report that the government and the management of Pfizer have finally concluded our negotiations. (Health) Secretary (Francisco T.) Duque and I signed yesterday the supply agreement for the biggest and most decisive deal we had for 2021,” Mr. Galvez said in a press release by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

The procurement of the 40 million Pfizer doses will be financed through a multilateral arrangement with the Asian Development Bank, Mr. Galvez said.

The loan “follows a direct disbursement scheme wherein payments are paid directly by the fund manager to the vaccine manufacturer,” he said.

Mr. Galvez said a global facility for equal vaccine access has also committed to deliver about 44 million vaccine doses to the country this year.

With the latest supply commitments, Mr. Galvez said the country has now secured 157 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, including 26 million from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., 10 million from Russia’s Gamaleya, 20 million from Moderna, Inc., and 17 million from AstraZeneca, Plc.

“The vaccines from Pfizer will significantly boost our national immunization program and will enable us to realize our goal of achieving herd immunity by yearend,” Mr. Galvez said.

The Philippines aims to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity.

As of June 18, data from the National Vaccination Operations Center show more than eight million doses have been given out. Of the total, more than 5.9 million were given as first doses, while more two million were administered as second doses, the task force said in a press release.

The Department of Health reported 5,803 coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total to 1.36 million.

The death toll rose by 84 to 23,621, while recoveries increased by 7,652 to 1.28 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 57,679 active cases, 1.3% of which were critical, 91.9% were mild, 3.7% did not show symptoms, 1.8% were severe and 1.29% were moderate.

The agency said eight duplicates had been removed from the tally, six of which were tagged as recoveries and one was tagged as death.

A total of 115 recoveries were reclassified as active cases, while 59 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Two laboratories failed to submit data on June 18, the agency said.

About 13.5 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of June 18, according to the Health department’s tracker website.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Sunday urged the government to fast-track the implementation of standard quarantine protocols for vaccinated Filipinos.

In a statement, Mr. Lacson said he fully supports the national task force’s move to have a standard quarantine protocol for Filipinos vaccinated here and abroad, noting the “economic recovery cannot afford to wait.”

“Please make it sooner, not later. Mind the economy for a change,” Mr. Lacson said in a social media post.

The senator previously pushed for a vaccine passport system that will make travelling to the country easier for vaccinated people, especially returning migrants and foreign investors.

He also urged the inter-agency task force to “fine-tune” protocols to address these problems and ensure that they are in line with those of other countries.

Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. early this month said the task force has approved the shortening of quarantine protocols for returning Filipinos who received their shots in the country. The policy takes effect June 22.

The returning migrants will only be subjected to a swab test if they show symptoms within seven days, he said.

On the other hand, those who got vaccinated overseas must quarantine for 10 days at a facility and continue isolation for another four days at home.

He said this is in consideration of the full rollout of the validation process of vaccine certificates. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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