PH eyes access to Moderna vaccine doses by May or June

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 5) — The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by American firm Moderna may arrive in the country by May or June, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez said on Friday.

“We are hoping that we will have the first deliveries by either end of May or early part of June,” Romualdez told a briefing.

The target date was set after the Philippines “concluded the agreement” with the drug manufacturer for 20 million doses of its vaccine.

The number of Moderna doses that will be initially delivered to the country is yet to be determined. What is certain is that the “first batches will start arriving no later than June of this year all the way down to the third and fourth quarter of this year,” according to Romualdez.

The Philippine envoy said almost half of the 20 million shots will go to the private sector and the rest to the national government's ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program.

Meanwhile, another American manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, made a commitment to the Philippines to supply it with six million of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, the ambassador said.

Johnson & Johnson, however, has not yet provided information as to when it can deliver the life-saving shots as it is currently focused on meeting the demand in the U.S., he added.

This year, the Philippines is expecting to secure 148 million vaccine doses from seven manufacturers to inoculate up to 70 million people.

The country has so far received China's donation of 600,000 vaccine doses made by Chinese firm Sinovac, and initial 487,200 doses developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca through the COVAX facility.

COVAX is a global initiative that aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure equitable access to every country in the world.