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Philippines will have enough vaccines for adults, palace says

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporters

THE PHILIPPINES will have enough coronavirus vaccines for its adult population this year, according to the presidential palace.

The government will get 44 million doses of vaccines under a global initiative for equal access and 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. that will arrive this month, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing on Tuesday.

“While the arrival of vaccines from Pfizer, Inc. and Astrazeneca Plc seem to have been delayed, the ones from Sinovac will arrive on the 23rd,” he said in Filipino.

The country seeks to vaccinate as many as 70 million adult Filipinos this year.

Mr. Roque earlier said about 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government would arrive this month.

The country is expected to get as many as 15 million doses from Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, 30 million doses from Novavax, Inc. and 17 million doses from British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc next quarter, he said.

He added that 20 million vaccine doses from Moderna, Inc. and 15 million doses from Pfizer will arrive in the third quarter.

The government expects to take delivery of five million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson in the last quarter.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 1,391 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 552,246. The death toll rose by seven to 11,524, while recoveries increased by 45 to 511,796, it said in a bulletin.

There were 28,926 active cases, 87.1% of which were mild, 6.7% did not show symptoms, 2.7% were critical, 2.6% were severe and 0.85% were moderate.

DoH said five duplicates had been removed from the tally, while two recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Ten laboratories failed to submit their data on Feb. 15.

About 7.9 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Feb. 14, according to DoH’s tracker website.

Meanwhile, the government would help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) get coronavirus vaccines for their employees, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Jose Ma. Concepcion III told a separate news briefing.

He also urged entrepreneurs who want to take part in the private sector’s initiative to immunize “economic frontliners” against the virus to pool their vaccine orders as early as this month.

Mr. Concepcion said coronavirus vaccines ordered by the private sector from drug makers would arrive in the third quarter.

In a related development, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara endorsed to the plenary a bill that seeks to fast-track coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine procurement and administration.

Senate Bill 2057 or the proposed COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act would expedite the purchase of vaccines, which is needed to end the pandemic early and quicken economic recovery, he said in his sponsorship speech on Tuesday.

“For the sake of our national recovery and the hopes and aspirations of every Filipino amid this pandemic, we call on this august chamber to act swiftly on our proposal,” he said.

Under the bill, local governments may buy vaccines in cooperation with DoH and the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

Local governments may also give advance payments for 50% of the contact price if required by the vaccine manufacturer.

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