The Philippines could close contracts to secure COVID-19 vaccines as early as December, for up to 60 million doses, enough to immunize half of the population, the country's vaccine czar said late Monday.
The deal with Britain's Astra Zeneca could be signed on Dec. 28 or 29 for 20 million doses, split equally between local governments and the provate sector. It could reach 60 million doses as early as the second quarter of 2021, said Sec. Carlito Galvez.
In his weekly report to President Rodrigo Duterte, which was streamed live on Facebook, Galvez said the Philippines was working to close the deals without paying cash advance. Another possible vaccine, according to Galvez, is Indian-made Novavax.
During the broadcast, Duterte said vaccine deals must pass only one person, Sec. Galvez. Last week, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said someone "dropped the ball," resulting in the Philippines' losing out on the chance to secure U.S.-made Pfizer vaccines by January.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that person was Health Sec. Francisco Duque, who denied that he "dropped the ball."
"Itong COVID napagusapan na natin to... I said I only delegate to one person, there can be so many negotiations, walang problema. At the end of the day your documents must pass the standard set by Gen. Galvez," Duterte said.
"Basta sa kanya lahat, presyo, kung anong medisina... I am not partial to any, but maraming mga bayan na may puso sa kapwa nila tao and we will, one of these days see the results of their endeavor to help us," he said.
The Philippines' biggest businessmen earlier placed an advance order for some three million doses of Astra Zeneca's vaccine.
OUR VACCINE COVERAGE: