The Philippines is eyeing to start immunizing its people from COVID-19 by May next year if all goes according to plan, the country's vaccine czar, Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte's administration is working out advanced procurement of vaccines for Filipinos even as pharmaceutical companies are still working to come up with an effective drug.
"If everything will go well, ang mangyayari po is by earliest is May,” Galvez said in an interview with ANC. "Kailangan po talaga magkaroon tayo ng advanced procurement while the vaccine is being produced."
Should the country encounter problems with vaccine supply, immunization may begin by the end of 2021, Galvez said.
MORE ON COVID-19 VACCINATION:
Based on the initial timeline of the government, the Philippines targets to acquire COVID-19 vaccines within the first three months of 2021.
Considering the global demand for vaccines, Galvez said the government was looking at an initial order enough to immunize some 24 million of the poorest and most vulnerable in the Philippines.
"We are appealing to the WHO [World Health Organization] na bigyan ng equitable access ang mga poor countries like us," he said.
Galvez earlier said the Philippines is looking at 10 vaccine candidates. Of these, eight are included in the COVAX Facility, a global immunization alliance.
While health officials have noted a declining trend in COVID-19 cases in the country, the entire Philippines remains under community quarantine.