VACCINE czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday night said priority in the distribution of vaccines would be given to areas with high cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases such Metro Manila, Davao City, Bacolod City, and Cebu.
Galvez, during a meeting convened by President Duterte in Davao City on Monday night, said vulnerable sectors living and working in these priority areas, like the poor and the frontline workers like the soldiers, police and health workers, would be vaccinated first.
Vaccines are still being developed by countries like the US, UK, China and Russia. The Philippines, which hopes to get vaccines by around April next year, is still negotiating with vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer which early this month disclosed its vaccine candidate has a 90 percent effectivity, based on initial data.
Galvez said using the geographical approach and then the sectoral approach in the distribution of vaccines aims to contain the spread of the COVID-19 faster. He said immunizing areas with high numbers of COVID-19 infections will also help the government determine the efficacy of the vaccines.
Galvez said this means that the vaccines would be deployed first in areas considered as epicenters such as National Capital Region, Davao City, Cebu, and Bacolod City.
President Duterte has repeatedly said he wants the poor sector prioritized in the vaccination. He also assured the poor that vaccines would be given to them for free.
The government is spending P73.2 billion to buy vaccines for some 60 million Filipinos.
Galvez said the government is ready to make an advance commitment with AstraZeneca for 20 million doses this month and possibly sign a memorandum of understanding by November 30.
He said once the agreement is signed, the vaccine supply can be made available by the second quarter of 2021.
He said AstraZeneca offers the lowest price for the vaccine at $5 or less per dosage.
Galvez said the government is also securing commitments from Pfizer and China’s Sinovac.
He said securing the deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinovac could assure the Philippines access to at least 60 million doses of vaccines by next year.
AstraZeneca and Sinovac, along with Hansen, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya, and CanSino, are seeking to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines.