30M Novavax doses arriving 3rd or 4th qtr.

The Philippines has secured 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by US biotech firm Novavax Inc, an official leading the country’s inoculation strategy said Tuesday.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said he signed a supply deal for the 30 million Novavax doses in a visit last week to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

The World Health Organization, through the COVAX facility, might also deliver 979,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines on March 22 for a total of 2,379,200 doses, he said.

During the briefing, President Rodrigo Duterte said Galvez went to India to personally negotiate on the vaccine procurement.

The Novavax shots will arrive in the Philippines “most likely” in the third or fourth quarter of 2021, said Galvez, also chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

The Philippines has received 600,000 China-donated doses from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, and 525,600 shots of Britain’s AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility, the rollout of both had started over the last two weeks.

At the same time, the government said it had vaccinated 215,997 Filipinos against COVID-19.

Data released to the public also showed that as of March 15, 6 p.m., 96 percent of the 1,125,600 COVID-19 doses from Sinovac and AstraZeneca have been distributed.

The DOH said it had already reached the “northernmost and southernmost island provinces of the country.”

There are a total 929 vaccination sites in 17 regions.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government was on track of achieving its target of inoculating at least 70 million Filipinos following the fresh $1.2-billion (approximately

P57.6-billion) loans extended recently by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Dominguez said these loans would secure the funding needed to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

Galvez said the Philippines would get at least 1.4 million more COVID-19 shots from Sinovac this month.

Vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility is also expected to deliver a second tranche of 900,000 COVID-19 shots in late March or early April, he added.

Galvez had said that the Philippines would get 161 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from different manufacturers this year.

At least 216,794 health workers have been vaccinated as of 11 a.m. Of Tuesday, or 16 days since the rollout began, said Galvez.

Hospitals cannot vaccinate all of its workers to prevent operations from bogging down if they experience vaccine side effects, he said.

The elderly will be inoculated against COVID-19 once all target health frontliners are vaccinated in the first or second week of April, he said.

The Philippines, as of Monday, recorded a total 626,893 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 53,479 or 8.5 percent are active. The death toll stood at 12,837.

Dominguez said: “The prompt and substantial financing extended by our multilateral partners is crucial to the accomplishment of the Duterte administration’s target to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos—or 100 percent of our adult population–hopefully within this year, so that we can safely open wide our economy and return it to its pre-pandemic path of high and inclusive growth,” he said.

He said, though, that even if the government had secured sufficient funds for its vaccine procurement, the pace of the rollout would depend on how fast suppliers could deliver the ordered doses for the country.

The WB said last week it had approved $500 million in additional funding to support the Philippine government’s program to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, strengthen the country’s health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.

On the same day, the ADB announced the Philippines became the first recipient of financing support under its Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) with the approval of a $400-million loan that will help the country purchase safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

The ADB loan is for the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 project that aims to assist the Department of Health in procuring and ensuring delivery to the country of vaccines certified by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) and bilateral vaccine suppliers that meet APVAX eligibility criteria.

The ADB project will be supported by a $300-million in co-financing from the AIIB.

According to the ADB, its loan, along with the co-financing extended by the AIIB, will fund the procurement of up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for as many as 50 million Filipinos.

Under the HEAL 2 loan agreement, ADB will pay vaccine suppliers directly.

This financing will also follow global best practices on safeguards measures, including waste management of medical supplies, the ADB said in its statement announcing the approval of the loan.

On top of the new HEAL 2 loan, the ADB had earlier provided a total $1.74 billion in loans and grants to the Philippines to support its COVID-19 response measures.

The WB’s new $500-million loan, on the other hand, will assist the Philippines to vaccinate the population based on vulnerability and risk.

According to the WB statement, the $500-million loan will supplement the Philippines’ ongoing COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, to which the bank earlier extended a $100-million loan.

On top of these loans from multilateral institutions, the Philippines has also contributed $84 million to the COVAX Facility to secure 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

These loans from the three multilateral lenders and the Philippines’ share in the COVAX facility form part of the government’s three-pronged strategy on vaccine procurement.

Dominguez said that besides a multilateral approach, the government is also pursuing partnerships with the private sector; and working with the local government units to acquire safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the people.

Around 40 million of the Philippine population who are 18 years old and below cannot be vaccinated, leaving around 70 million adults covered by the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Dominguez said the Philippines was negotiating to secure vaccine doses for 92 million individuals, or more than 100 percent of the country’s adult population, to account for any possible delay in deliveries or slippages.

Meanwhile, Dominguez said the Philippines’ share in the United Kingdom”s Cross-Government Prosperity Fund will be an “invaluable tool” that would help the country post a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and flourish in the emerging New Economy.

He and British Ambassador Daniel Pruce signed on Monday (March 15) the memorandum of understanding for the Philippines’ participation in the UK Cross-Government Prosperity Fund for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Reform Program and the ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Program.

As the lead agency for the implementation of the MOU covering the Philippines’ initiatives under the Prosperity Fund, the DOF commits to a productive collaboration with its partner-agencies to complete the programs by March 31, 2022, Dominguez said.

Under the Fund, a total £19 million (approximately P1.3 billion), will be shared among six ASEAN countries (Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam), to develop their respective capital markets; encourage improvement in their accounting standards; and expand the use of FinTech or financial technology.

Dominguez said these initiatives under the ASEAN Economic Reform Program would help improve the Philippines’ business environment to aid it in returning to the path of inclusive and sustainable growth.

At the same time, the government said it had vaccinated 215,997 Filipinos against COVID-19.

Data released to the public also showed that as of March 15, 6 p.m., 96 percent of the 1,125,600 COVID-19 doses from Sinovac and AstraZeneca have been distributed.

The DOH said it had already reached the “northernmost and southernmost island provinces of the country.”

There are a total 929 vaccination sites in 17 regions.

In a related development, Malacanang clarified the indigent population would still receive their coronavirus vaccines inside designated vaccination centers and not within their communities despite an order from President Duterte.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte’s order for vaccinators to administer COVID-19 jabs inside indigent communities was already incorporated in the national vaccine deployment plan.

On Monday night, Duterte said he wanted poor Filipinos to get vaccinated within three days even though the government’s prioritization list puts frontline workers in health facilities, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities first in line for inoculation.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this would be difficult to implement since there are not enough personnel to monitor the vaccine recipients for possible adverse effects.

Meanwhile, Senate President Protempore Ralph Recto said the government should now start releasing daily reports on the number of people who have been vaccinated. He said this was the national scoreboard that would tell us how far we

were into our vaccination goal and how fast we were doing it. He said this could be incorporated into the daily COVID reports of the DOH. “If we tally deaths, we should also tally the lives saved,” noted Recto.

The daily vaccination report, he said, must include a breakdown by regions, and by age group, if possible.

According to Recto, if the vaccination is a long journey, then these regional speedometers will tell us the vaccination volume and velocity in a certain area.

The Senate leader said having this granular data was important in mapping out moves against the virus. It is also the database that forms the backbone of the national vaccine passport information system.

“We should begin clocking our progress, or the lack of it,” he added.

This developed as Sen. Christopher Go assured the public the Duterte government was accelerating the vaccine rollout and ensure that other priority groups, particularly the poor and vulnerable sectors would not be left behind.

Amid rising COVID-19 cases, Go urged the government to strictly implement health protocols, heighten masks distribution and info campaign on the country’s pandemic situation. With PNA

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