AFTER months of getting delayed, an initial batch of 193,050 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in the Philippines this week.
The shipment of Pfizer’s jabs supplied by the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility landed before 9 p.m. on Monday, May 10 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Pasay City.
Among the key officials who welcomed the shipment were Secretary of Science and Technology Fortunato de la Peña, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon, United States Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Law, and WHO Philippines Representative Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
According to Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the Pfizer doses will be used on priority groups under A1 (health care workers), A2 (elderly), and A3 (persons with comorbidities).
“We thank the COVAX Facility and all of our partners for making this possible. We will continue to boost public confidence in our national vaccination program,” he added.
In a separate statement, the U.S. Embassy welcomed the “successful” arrival of the vaccine doses in the country.
“As the largest contributor to COVAX, the United States welcomes the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine here in the Philippines. I am proud that this extraordinarily safe and effective vaccine, developed through U.S. scientific ingenuity, will protect Filipinos,” said Law.
“As we fight the pandemic together, the United States will continue to support the Philippines’ vaccination and COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” he added.
The Pfizer doses will be distributed to Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu, and other areas which can accommodate the product’s storage requirements of -70 to -80°C.
Previously, the vaccines were expected to arrive in the Philippines in February, but the delivery was pushed back due to the lack of an indemnification deal.
The shipment came days after the country received two million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX on Saturday, May 8.
In total, the Philippines now has 7,764,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, of which five million are Sinovac, 2.5 million are AstraZeneca, 15,000 are Sputnik V, and 193,050 are Pfizer.
The country is also set to receive an additional 1.1 million Pfizer doses by the end of the month, according to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
The Philippine government is eyeing to inoculate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity.