COVID-19 vaccines

US promises ‘early’ vaccine delivery starting May 2021, says Galvez

Sofia Tomacruz
US promises ‘early’ vaccine delivery starting May 2021, says Galvez

LIMITED DOSES. Private health professionals residing in Pasig City line up for COVID-19 vaccination on March 26, 2021.

Rappler

The Philippines is also eyeing to purchase an additional 5 million Moderna doses, on top of the 20 million earlier secured through a tripartite deal

The United States has promised the Philippines it would receive initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by American pharmaceutical firms as early as May 2021, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said on Tuesday, March 30.

Speaking before the House of Representatives’ health panel, Galvez said he received news of the development from Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez.

“This afternoon, I was told by Ambassador Romualdez that he just came from an appointment with the State Department and they promised that the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, or Moderna [vaccine] – we will have an early delivery by May,” Galvez said.

The Philippines is already expecting an initial batch of at least 194,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine to arrive in the country by May, after the government and private sector closed a tripartite supply deal with the drug firm to purchase 20 million doses for Filipinos in 2021.

Expected deliveries for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, however, are slated for arrival in the Philippines by July at the earliest, while the government has yet to close a supply deal for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Why it matters

The US is one of the major players in developing vaccines, accounting for 27% of the world’s coronavirus vaccine production. But it currently accounts for 0% of global supply beyond its borders as bulk contracts with manufacturers keep US-produced doses from being exported, Axios reported. 

US President Joe Biden also earlier said the country was on track to ensure enough supplies of vaccines “for every adult in America by the end of May.” This was echoed by US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 task force, who said the demand-supply gap for the doses in the US may be closed by that time.

If that target is achieved, it would leave room for the US to start allowing vaccines produced there to be accessed by other countries, including the Philippines.

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SCHEDULE: Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine deliveries

SCHEDULE: Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine deliveries
More Moderna doses eyed

During the hearing, Galvez said the government has also expressed interest in increasing its Moderna order by 5 million doses. If this pushes through, it would bring total doses from the company to 25 million.

Since the Philippines launched its mass vaccination program on March 1, it has received about 2.5 million doses.

Of the delivered vaccines, 1 million are Sinovac doses donated by China, 525,600 AstraZeneca doses donated through the COVAX Facility led by the World Health Organization, and 1 million purchased by the government, also made by Sinovac. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.