The Philippines targets to vaccinate its entire population of more than 100 million people against the coronavirus by 2023, officials said.
Vaccine rollout may start as early as February, although bulk of the inoculations will begin in the second half of 2021, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a Senate hearing Monday. The capital region, which accounts for more than a third of COVID-19 infections, will be a priority, he said.
The government may sign supply deals this week with vaccine-makers including AstraZeneca Plc. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. for 60 million doses, he said. A term sheet was signed with Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses, while supply agreements are also being finalized with Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc. and Russia's Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Galvez said.
Sinovac has committed to deliver 25 million vaccine doses to the Philippines this year, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a separate briefing, with the first shipment expected in February.
Herd immunity may be achieved this year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at the Senate hearing, as the government targets to buy 148 million vaccine doses to inoculate more than half of the population in 2021. Some 82.5 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) have been allocated for vaccine purchases this year, bulk of which are from loans.
Safety concerns are discouraging almost half of Philippine citizens to get inoculated, according to a Pulse Asia Research Inc. survey, posing a challenge to the vaccination plan which underpins the nation's economic recovery.