35M Pinoys in priority list for COVID vaccines

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    SOME 35 million Filipinos are in the priority list of beneficiaries of vaccines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) being procured by government, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.

    He reiterated that it will take government three to five years to complete the vaccination of the targeted 60 million Filipinos.

    “We will do this in a three- to five-year period kasi po ang kaya lang natin ma-vaccinate (because we can afford to vaccinate) is more or less 20 to 30 million a year,” Galvez said at the “Laging Handa” briefing.

    He said Philippines is negotiating with China to secure 20 million to 50 million doses of Sinovac, as part of efforts to realize the goal of inoculating 60 million to 70 million Filipinos.

    Galvez said the priority list was prepared by the Department of Health. The list includes health workers and frontliners like policemen, soldiers, and other servicemen, and essential workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepEd), and other government agencies.

    He reassured the public that the vulnerable communities and indigents remain a priority in the administration of vaccines.

    Galvez reiterated that government is prioritizing areas with high COVID-19 infections in the distribution of vaccines.

    He also reiterated that under the best-case scenario, the vaccines would be available by the first or second quarter of 2021 but the realistic scenario is that the vaccines would start arriving by the end of 2021 to early 2022.

    He earlier said the country is expecting to secure up to 60 million vaccines from AstraZeneca and is already guaranteed doses corresponding to up to 20 percent of the population under the COVAX facility arrangement.

    He said there are discussions with governments and pharmaceutical firms from Australia, India, among others. He previously mentioned Israel, the United States, Singapore, Russia, China and the United Kingdom.