SCHEDULE: Philippines' COVID-19 vaccine deliveries

Facing growing pressure to speed up vaccinations in the Philippines, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr remained confident the government could meet its target of vaccinating 70% of the population, saying the bulk of the country’s supply of COVID-19 shots will start arriving in April. 

For Galvez and the Duterte government’s pandemic task force, a schedule of expected COVID-19 vaccine deliveries is crucial if they are to hold up their promise to achieve herd immunity in the country by the end of 2021. 

Adding to the urgency of vaccinations, the Philippines – one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in Southeast Asia – is once again experiencing a deadly spike in infections, with daily cases reported shattering records over a year into the outbreak. 

In 2021, Galvez asserted the Philippines would gain access to at least 140 million vaccines, including those purchased by the government from vaccine manufacturers and drug firms like AstraZeneca, Novavax, Moderna, Sinovac, Johnson and Johnson (Janssen Pharmaceutica), and the Gamaleya Research Institute. 

Apart from this, the Philippines was also expecting more vaccines from the COVAX global facility led by the World Health Organization. 

Which vaccines have arrived and when can you expect others to be delivered? (Updated as of October 17, 2021)

1st Quarter

Delivered:

  • February 28 - 600,000 Sinovac doses donated by China 
  • March 4 - 487,200 AstraZeneca doses from COVAX
  • March 7 - 38,400 AstraZeneca doses from COVAX
  • March 24 - 400,000 Sinovac doses donated by China 
  • March 29 - 1 million Sinovac doses purchased by government 

Announced but not delivered:

  • March 24 to 26 - 979,200 AstraZeneca doses from COVAX

On Monday, April 5, World Health Organization Representative Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe said expected deliveries from COVAX will be delayed due to a shortage of vaccines globally. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr earlier said the WHO had only given an indicative period for the delivery of more vaccines from the COVAX facility and had yet to give a specific date of arrival. 

Like the Philippines, vaccine deliveries had been delayed for other Asian countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Korea. India, the world's biggest vaccine maker, had put a temporary hold on exports of AstraZeneca's vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), as officials focus on meeting rising domestic demand. 

2nd Quarter

April 

Delivered:

Announced but not delivered:

  • April 28 - 18,000 Gamaleya doses (initial delivery to be used for practice in handling Sputnik V vaccine)
  • End-April - 480,000 Gamaleya doses
  • End-April to early-May - 195,000 Pfizer doses 
  • AstraZeneca doses from COVAX

Hours before the expected arrival of the shipment  on Wednesday, April 28, Malacañang announced that the delivery of the Philippines’ first batch of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia was postponed due to "logistical challenges.” An initial delivery of 15,000 doses was expected to arrive in Metro Manila at around 10:45 pm on Wednesday, via a Qatar Airways plane from Doha, Qatar.

The delivery is now expected to arrive in May instead.

May 

Delivered:

  • May 1 - 15,000 Sputnik V doses (component 1)
  • May 7 - 1.5 million Sinovac doses 
  • May 8 - 2,030,400 AstraZeneca doses from COVAX
  • May 10 - 193,050 Pfizer doses from COVAX
  • May 12 - 15,000 Sputnik V doses (component 2)
  • May 20 - 500,000 Sinovac doses
  • May 30 - 50,000 Sputnik V doses 

Announced but not delivered:

  • 2 million Gamaleya doses
  • 2.1 million Pfizer doses from COVAX

In a briefing on May 14, Galvez said the Philippines was now expecting to receive up to 2.2 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in May, doubling the initial 1.1 million doses first announced to arrive within the month. Galvez said this became possible after COVAX committed to advance the delivery of 1.1 million doses scheduled to arrive in June. 

Weeks later on May 26, Galvez said during a televised briefing that the 2 million Pfizer vaccines expected in May from COVAX would be delivered in June instead. 

Galvez did not provide a reason for the delay, only saying that there had been a “slip” in total vaccine deliveries expected for the month. “The good thing here is these vaccines aren’t lost, it was just moved to June 7 to 11,” he said. 

Aside from supplies of Pfizer's vaccine from COVAX, volumes of the Sputnik V vaccine have not yet arrived in the country. 

June

Delivered:

Announced but not delivered:

  • 1.9 million Gamaleya doses
  • 2 million AstraZeneca doses from COVAX (third week of June)

On May 28, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said the Philippines will be among countries that will receive donated vaccines from the United States’ surplus supply of shots.  

US President Joe Biden earlier pledged to have some 80 million vaccines delivered overseas by the end of June as part of a strategy to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This included 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines that have not received emergency approval in the US, as well as 20 million more doses of Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the country’s stockpile. 

On June 22, Romualdez said the Philippines would receive 800,000 to 1 million doses of either AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines donated by the US.

The Philippines also saw a delay in the delivery of 50,000 doses of Sputnik V’s Component II vaccines in June. Galvez, citing the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said this was “due to ongoing upgrades and latest developments on the vaccine.” A new delivery date has yet to be announced.

As a result, second doses for those who received their first Sputnik V shot will be pushed back. But health officials said the same level of efficacy can still be achieved even if second shots are taken later than scheduled. The situation was likened to delaying shots for individuals due to illness or medical conditions

All in all, Galvez said the Philippines expects to receive about 10,158,000 vaccine doses in June.

3rd Quarter

July

Delivered:

On July 8, Galvez said Sinovac deliveries expected for the first week of July had been pushed back since the company delivered 2 million doses in advance in June. The Philippines received 6.5 million doses from Sinovac in June, more than the expected 4.5 million doses. 

The arrival of Sputnik V doses on July 9 also comes after an initial delay in shipment due to “logistical issues.” 

August

Delivered: 

Announced but not delivered:

  • COVAX vaccines - 3 million doses
  • Pfizer - 363,150 doses
  • Moderna - 1,804,400 million doses 

On August 3, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the government is expecting to receive some 22.7 million vaccine doses within the month. This includes an additional 1.6 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine the Philippine government is negotiating for purchase to boost vaccination efforts as the country seeks to contain the more contagious Delta variant. 

On August 13, another 575,800 AstraZeneca doses purchased by the private sector arrived in the Philippines, though this was short of the 1.17 million doses expected to arrive that week. Galvez later said on August 17 that another 594,200 doses were expected to arrive within the month. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on August 19 that 739,200 Sinopharm doses donated by China were scheduled to arrive in the Philippines on August 20. A second delivery was scheduled for August 21, completing 1 million doses. This came later than the previous schedule of August 10. 

September

Delivered:

Announced but not delivered:

  • Moderna - 3.4 million doses
  • Pfizer - 1.8 million doses 
  • Sputnik V Light - 1 million doses

On September 8, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that the government wants to receive at least 9 million doses per week to reach its target of inoculating at least 70 million Filipinos by the end of the year. So far, actual deliveries have yet to meet this. 

In the first week of September, deliveries were short by some 6 million as the Philippines got about 3 million doses only. This target was finally met in the third week of September, when 9.5 million doses arrived – the largest weekly shipment to date. 

The delayed Moderna shipments initially announced eventually arrived in the Philippines in subsequent deliveries within September and later in October.

4th Quarter

October

Delivered:

Expected:

  • COVAX vaccines (Pfizer) - 3 million doses 
  • Sinovac - 10 million doses
  • Pfizer - 10 million doses
  • Moderna - 5 million doses
  • Sputnik V Light - 1 million doses
  • AstraZeneca - 1 million doses
  • Donation - 1.5 million doses

With more vaccine doses arriving, the Philippines opened its vaccination drive to the general adult population on October 7. On October 15, it also started vaccination for minors in Metro Manila who are 12 to 17 years old and have comorbidities. Other areas in the country are expected to follow suit once they have vaccinated at least 50% of their elderly population, based on the DOH’s directive. 

On October 14, China announced it would donate 1 million more Sinovac vaccines, bringing the total number of doses shared with the country to about 3 million. Japan on October 15 also announced it would donate nearly 2 million AstraZeneca doses, pushing the total number of doses given to the Philippines to over 3 million. 

The US also donated 1.9 million Pfizer doses. 

November (No breakdown yet)

  • 20 million doses 

December (No breakdown yet)

  • 20 million doses 
Why it matters

Suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the region, the Philippines is expected to be one of the last to recover from the pandemic in Southeast Asia. The rollout of vaccines has been listed as one way to help revive the country’s economy which has suffered its worst drop since the end of World War II.

Beset by initial delays in paperwork and negotiations, the Philippines had also been the last country in Southeast Asia to start receiving COVID-19 vaccines. It was among the last in the region to launch its mass vaccine program on March 1, 2021

Rollout targets

As soon as the bulk of vaccines start arriving in the Philippines by the second quarter, the government’s pandemic task force targeted to inoculate about 500,000 to 1 million per week from April to May.

From June to July, their target jumped to 1 to 2 million vaccinations weekly. After that, targets were pegged to about 3 to 5 million vaccinations per week.

In terms of priority sectors, a group of medical experts advising the government on its vaccination program said health workers should be the first to receive vaccines, followed by senior citizens, people with comorbidities, indigent populations, and other uniformed and frontline personnel. 

In October 2021, the Philippine government shifted its vaccination targets upwards to reach at least 90% of the country’s population, after the highly transmissible Delta variant increased herd immunity thresholds for the disease. 

Under initial targets, health officials were aiming to vaccinate about 77 million Filipinos to reach a goal of 70% of the population vaccinated. With targets now raised, vaccinating 90% of the country’s population would include inoculating adolescents below 18 years old since all eligible adult Filipinos are already factored in the 70% goal. 

The Philippines has cleared both Pfizer and Moderna’s shot for emergency use among adolescents at least 12 years of age, but health experts said that with the current scarcity of doses in the country, vulnerable adult populations are still the priority in the government’s vaccine drive. 

The DOH is set to release guidelines for the vaccination of younger age groups once possible. Health officials said vaccines may initially be rolled out in high transmission areas and prioritized for adolescents with co-morbidities, as well as for children of healthcare frontliners.

The National Task Force likewise said it was in talks with four vaccine manufactures for the possible purchase of booster doses – if several vaccine expert groups and the DOH decide to authorize its use in the country. So far, the World Health Organization has said booster shots are not needed for the general population. 

Six months since the start of the government's vaccine program, 20% of the country’s population have received the first of two doses of a vaccine. Those who have received both doses represent about 15.5% of the population. – Rappler.com

Read Rappler’s series of guides on the Duterte government's vaccine program below:

Read Rappler's series of explainers on the Duterte government's vaccine program below:

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.

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