THE Philippine government is trying to outdo other Third World countries in securing a slice of the limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines in the global market by offering to pay higher.
According to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, the government is on its earnest bid to make sure that the Philippines doesn’t lag behind, adding that the bulk of its orders this year would only be made available in the second semester.
“We are negotiating to have early deliveries, even if the vaccines will be slightly more expensive,” said a problematic Galvez who lamented the “very thin” supply that the Philippines managed to secure in the first half of the current year.
“This is our big problem: because of global demand our supply is very thin in the first quarter.”
Of the 161 million doses, Galvez said that only 5.1 million jabs are expected to arrive in the country this quarter. The first shipments will be Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccines donated by China, as well as those from the COVAX Facility which supplies shots to poor nations. These will be followed by 24.1 million shots in the second quarter.
Galvez said he’s negotiating with China, the U.K., India and Russia to boost vaccine deliveries in the first quarter so the Philippines can inoculate 1.7 million health workers and people in vulnerable groups. Under the current supply schedule, he said the major rollout of vaccines will only be in the second half.
The Philippines, which has the region’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak, is aiming to inoculate up to 70 percent of its population this year to help its economy recover from last year’s record slump.