Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines may arrive in Philippines in May

Is the long wait for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine finally over?

An initial delivery of 193,000 doses of the vaccine may arrive on May 11, said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr on Wednesday, May 5, during a meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

"There is assurance that 1.3 million will arrive in May. On May 11, most likely, the 193,000 doses for initial roll-out will arrive," he said in Filipino.

This first batch of Pfizer doses are meant to allow Philippine authorities to do a test-run of the logistics needed for the vaccines which require storage and transportation at -80 to -60 degrees Celsius.

The US-developed vaccine has one of the highest efficacy ratings among COVID-19 shots, at 95%.

The Pfizer doses will go to Metro Manila, Davao City, and Cebu City – major urbanized areas with big populations and still worrisome COVID-19 transmission rates.

Pfizer shots intended for Davao City and Cebu City will be flown straight there, instead of passing through Metro Manila, said Galvez. This is to address worries of Pfizer that there would be "double-handling" of the extra-senstitive vaccines.

Galvez gave assurances that Metro Manila local governments are already prepared for the Pfizer rollouts, after conducting simulations.

He also said that, due to possible deliveries from the COVAX Facility, vaccines expected to arrive in May may rise from 4 million to 7 million doses.

Pfizer vaccines were supposed to arrive last February and were expected to be the Philippines' first delivery of COVID-19 jabs. But the country's lack of an indemnification law and some disagreements on legal language pertaining to immunity from suit led to delays. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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