PH to procure 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 6) — The Philippines is targeting to secure 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from around seven companies this year, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said Wednesday.

"Based on our current negotiations, we will be able to purchase at least 148 million doses from more or less seven manufacturers," Galvez told a briefing.

If this goes as planned, around 50 to 70 million Filipinos could be vaccinated by the end of 2021, he added.

Galvez said the actual number of doses that will be bought depends on the availability of vaccines, as he noted that rich countries have already procured 80% of the global supply.

The official said they are in "advanced stages of negotiations" with American pharmaceutical companies Novavax, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson, Chinese drugmaker Sinovac, and Russian medical research institute Gamaleya.

"We hope to close the deals with these companies this month," he said.

Aside from the doses that will be secured through bilateral agreements, the country also stands to receive "fully subsidized" COVID-19 vaccines for 22 million Filipinos through the COVAX facility, the vaccine czar said. COVAX is a global initiative to ensure countries' "equitable access" to safe and effective coronavirus vaccines.

Through a private sector donation, the national government has signed a deal with British firm AstraZeneca for 2.6 million doses, which officials hoped could be delivered in June. Half of the purchase will go to the government, while the other half will be administered to employees of businesses that pitched in. Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion also said there will be a second batch of orders for over 3 million shots.

In the 2021 national budget, ₱72.5 billion was set aside for COVID-19 vaccines, but only ₱2.5B is funded by available cash. The rest can only be accessed once a vaccine is ready for purchase in the country, to be sourced through loans.