Galvez: Vaccine delivery from Covax faces delay over ‘global logistics constraints’

THERE will be a “slight delay” in the delivery of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines to be supplied by the World Health Organization-led Covax facility to the Philippines due to “global logistics constraints”, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez, National Task Force against Covid-19 chief implementer, said that manufacturing countries were restricting exports of the vaccines, thus delaying the country’s delivery of the shots.

But Galvez assured the public that the government was doing everything it could to expedite the remaining Covax commitment.

“Ang pinaka-latest information po natin sa Covax ay magkakaroon po tayo ng slight delay kasi due to the constraints sa ating global logistics kasi nakikita natin nagkakaroon ng massive vaccination ‘yung mga manufacturing countries (Our latest Covax information is that there will be a slight delay due to the constraints in global logistics as the manufacturing countries are also conducting massive vaccination),” Galvez said during a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.

Galvez made the statement after the Covax facility had announced that deliveries of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India will be delayed this March and April due to the South Asian country’s battle against a new wave of virus infections.

Covax is a global initiative led by the WHO, vaccine alliance Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations that seeks member countries’ equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.

The Philippines has been expecting the arrival of one million more doses from Covax this April, regardless of brand.

A total of 979,200 doses from AstraZeneca is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines in late March or early April, according to Galvez.

On March 4, 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the country, followed by another set of 38,400 doses on March 7 — a total of 525,600 doses from Covax.

The Philippines is slated to receive at least 5.6 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax facility in the first quarter of the year.

Galvez said the government also hoped to finalize supply agreements with pharmaceutical firms Johnson&Johnson of the United States and Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia.

“Hopefully, all of these contracts will be finished in the first or second week of April,” the vaccine czar said.

Supply deals with Sinovac, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Novavax have been finalized, Galvez added.

On Monday, the Philippines received one million procured doses of Sinovac vaccines.

The country launched the vaccination program on March 1 with health workers as the top priority. So far, 668,018 individuals have been vaccinated.

The Philippines aims to inoculate 70 percent of the total population, or about 70 million Filipinos, before the end of the year.

This will supposedly trigger “herd immunity,” a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease.

On Tuesday, the country recorded 9,296 new Covid-19 infections, bringing the overall tally to 741,181, with deaths at 13,191 and recoveries at 603,310.