PH lists vaccine priority areas as India crisis seen to delay delivery of doses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 4) — Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has recommended areas to be prioritized in the inoculation drive as the country expects delays in the delivery of doses from global manufacturers due to the COVID-19 surge in India.

On Monday, he said the vaccination should focus on areas with high active cases of COVID-19, including virus epicenter Metro Manila. It will also include other regions with ongoing case spikes.

“Considering magkaroon tayo ng shortfall sa ating supply, we are recommending magkaroon tayong prioritization. Meaning, titingnan po natin ang areas na may economic at social importance,” Galvez said.

[Translation: Considering a shortfall in our supply, we are recommending prioritization. Meaning, we will look into and prioritize areas based on economic and social importance.]

He recommended the following areas of priority based on "economic and social importance":

Luzon: Metro Manila and six nearby provinces, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley

Visayas: Cebu City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas

Mindanao: Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Iligan City, Davao Region, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao.

The chief implementor of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said the second pandemic wave in India could affect the global vaccine supply since the South Asian nation provides doses to COVAX — one of the Philippines' sources of coronavirus shots

He added the Philippines can also expect delays in the delivery or lesser doses of American firm Novavax’s Covovax vaccines for the Philippines by September. The Covovax is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

“Pero po yung Novavax, ang nakikita po natin dahil may nangyayari po sa India, ay baka mabawasan o ma-delay siya sa September, dahil nakikita po natin kailangang kailangan ng India ang supply ng mga vaccines,” said Galvez.

[Translation: With the Novovax, the situation now in India could mean lesser doses or a delay in the delivery in September. We can see that India is really in need of vaccine supply.]

India has been experiencing an uncontrollable increase in COVID-19 cases, with new infections staying well above 300,000 every day. Many hospitals are experiencing shortages in oxygen and available ICU beds.

Some countries, including the Philippines, have already imposed a ban on travelers from India.

Despite the possible delay with the supply of vaccines, President Rodrigo Duterte is confident about other countries that have committed to deliver vaccines to the country.

“Wala tayong problema tingin ko in the acquisition ng bakuna, because we have some guarantees from countries who honor the contract at darating ‘yan ng panahon na kailangan natin. Let us just pray na itong mga variants will not go haywire,” he said.

[Translation: I don’t think we have a problem when it comes to the acquisition of vaccines, because we have some guarantees from countries who will honor the contract, and they will arrive when we need them. Let us just pray that these variants will not go haywire.]

The available anti-coronavirus vaccines so far in the country are the those developed by Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Gamaleya Research Institute.

Galvez sais 1,658,539 Filipinos have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.