Palace says COVAX Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrival to have slight delay, but still in Feb.
By Celerina Monte
Pfizer-Biontech's COVID-19 vaccine may no longer arrive by mid-February but still within the month, Malacanang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a televised press briefing, said that the government has no information as to the exact date of the arrival of Pfizer vaccine under COVAX Facility.
"The COVAX Facility will set the date when it will send the vaccine. It's not within our control because they are the ones making the decision when they will release the vaccine," he said.
He noted that the Pfizer vaccine will come from Belgium where it is being manufactured and will be flown via Philippine Airlines from London as there is no direct flight from Brussels.
"We're expecting that the month of February won't end without the first shipment from COVAX Facility," Roque said.
Roque earlier said that COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, particularly from Pfizer, were expected to arrive by middle of February.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vivencio Dizon acknowledged the delay in the delivery of Pfizer vaccine in the country.
"The first 117,000 (doses) of Pfizer vaccine have a slight delay (on their arrival) because of the processing of documents with the COVAX Facility and the WHO (World Health Organization). But we are confident that they will arrive in the coming weeks, within the month of February," he said.
Dizon said the first quarter will be the "mini rollout" of COVID-19 immunization program with 3 to 5 million doses to be injected to priority sectors. Most of the vaccines will come from COVAX as well as from China, he said.
During the second quarter, he said five to nine million doses of vaccines, including those purchased by the national government, will arrive.
Dizon said the "full rollout" of the COVID-19 vaccination will take place in the third quarter when major deliveries of local government units and private sector-procured vaccines will take place.
"And during the quarter four, it's all-out rollout and the remaining allocation of COVAX and major deliveries from government procurement through the Asian Development Bank and World Bank will happen," he said.
He said the government expects more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the country this year.
Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital has expressed readiness to inoculate its health workers with COVID-19 vaccine.
According to UP-PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi, 5,134 or 93.6 percent of their 6,300 employees have personally registered and given their consent to be inoculated once the COVID-19 vaccines arrive.
He said the PGH employees will accept any approved vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.
"We will consider it safe and optimum and whatever it is, we will have ourselves vaccinated," he said.
For the historical first COVID-19 vaccination, Legaspi said it will be Jonas del Rosario, the PGH spokesperson.
He noted that Del Rosario's both parents have died due to COVID-19. DMS