'Long, Winding Odyssey': Philippines Seeks 161 Million Vaccine Doses in 2021

Despite short global supply.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Philippines hopes to secure as many as 161 million COVID vaccine doses this year, despite tight global supply, President Rodrigo Duterte's vaccine czar said Monday, with the chief executive describing the procurement as a "long and winding odyssey."

The first official jabs, all courtesy of China's Sinovac, were delivered earlier in the day. Beijing donated some 600,000 doses. The jabs arrived as nationwide quarantines neared the one-year mark.

During his weekly address to the nation, Duterte called on vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez to narrate the "give us the long and winding odyssey of how it finally came to the shores of the Philippines."


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Galvez said the 10 richest countries in the world have cornered 75% of supply and many countries have to turned to Sinovac and Chinese compatriot Sinopharm for the jabs.

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"Global vaccine inequality is becoming a larger issue. There's pressure for the first world to donate," he said.

Galvez said he hoped "high mistrust" on Chinese vaccines would fade as more countries turn to Beijing for their supplies. This includes Hong Kong, Indonesia and Hungary, the first in the Eurozone to use Chinese-made vaccines.

The goal with the first batch of vaccines is to innoculate all health workers, Galvez said. The country expects to received some 500,000 from AstraZeneca this month, officials said earlier.

The Philippines expects to receive 20 million doses from COVAX in the second quarter and some 2.6 million from AstraZeneca that was ordered by the private sector, he said.

Another 68 million doses are expected to arrive in the third quarter and 69 million in the fourth quarter, he said.

By the end of the year, the Philippines would have received 161 million doses, including 44 million from the COVAX alliance.

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