COVID-19 vaccines

Philippines buys 20 million more Pfizer doses for boosters, kids’ vaccination

Sofia Tomacruz
Philippines buys 20 million more Pfizer doses for boosters, kids’ vaccination

VACCINATION DRIVE. A vaccinator prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the San Andres Gym in Manila on July 8, 2021.

Rappler

(1st UPDATE) The additional Pfizer doses are expected to start arriving in the country in January 2022

The Philippine government signed a supply agreement to purchase 20 million additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, raising the country’s total order of this brand to 60 million doses – its biggest deal to date.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. made the announcement in a press briefing on Sunday, November 28, saying the deal had been signed the previous day.

“Just recently, yesterday, Pfizer already announced that we signed for an additional 20 million doses to be procured for the purpose of using this for boosters and our pediatric vaccination,” Galvez told reporters.

The additional 20 million doses were purchased using part of the country’s loan with the World Bank, he added.

In an official statement, Pfizer Philippines interim country manager Edilberto Reyes said the 20 million doses will be delivered to the country starting January 2022, based on a monthly schedule agreed upon with the government. 

The Philippines’ latest order follows the expansion of its coronavirus vaccination drive, which was opened to minors aged 12 to 17 in November. In the same month, the government also started administering boosters for medical workers and senior citizens.

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Other priority sectors, including persons with comorbidities and economic frontliners, are expected to receive boosters in the coming weeks.

Aside from Pfizer, seven other vaccine brands are being offered in the Philippines’ immunization campaign, including shots developed by Moderna, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Research Institute, Sinovac, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson.

Only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, however, have been granted emergency use among minors aged 12 to 17. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca shots to be used as additional doses.

Before the government signed a deal to order more doses from Pfizer, its largest purchase was from Sinovac for some 51 million doses. The vaccine comprised around 40% of the Philippines’ stockpile as of mid-November. 

Galvez said the government is also expected to secure emergency approval and begin its rollout of vaccines among 5- to 11-year-olds by the end of 2021 or early 2022. Only Pfizer’s shot has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use among this age group. – 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.