PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is getting impatient over the delay in the arrival of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Friday.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. made the statement after the expected early delivery of two brands of Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines has been delayed by paperwork.
“Tatapatin ko kayo: si Presidente ang nagsalita na. Siya mismo naiinip na (I will be direct with you, the President has spoken. He himself is getting impatient),” Roque said during an interview with state-run PTV-4.
“Kinakailangan dumating na ang mga bakuna kaya naman siguro dahil nagsalita na ng ganyan ang Presidente, e gagalaw na nang mas mabilis ang lahat (The vaccines need to arrive. Now that the President has spoken, everyone will move faster),” he added.
On Thursday, Roque announced that the shipment of 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine, due to arrive on February 23, might also be delayed as it has yet to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
He said Sinovac wanted to wait for an EUA before delivering the vaccine it was donating to the Philippines.
“Kapag hindi po lumabas ang EUA, baka po maantala rin ang pagdating ng 600,000 na Sinovac. Pero mas mabuti na po talaga na and’yan na iyong EUA para sigurado na pagdating, gamit agad… Malaman na rin natin para alam natin kung magagamit o hindi (If the EUA is not issued, the arrival of 600,000 Sinovac doses might be delayed. But it is really better for the EUA to be issued before it is delivered so that once it gets here, it will be immediately used. We will also know if it can be really used or not),” Roque said.
Of the 600,000 Sinovac doses, 100,000 shots were supposed to go to the military, and the rest to health workers.
The drug regulator has so far granted EUAs to only two Covid-19 vaccine makers, namely US-based Pfizer-BioNTech and the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca.
Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine from the World Health Organization-led Covax facility were initially expected to arrive in the country mid-February but encountered delays due to hitches in ironing out the indemnity agreement.
The Philippines has submitted its own indemnity agreement with the Covax facility, assuring vaccine manufacturers that the government will assume responsibility should vaccine recipients experience adverse effects.
The government, however, is still awaiting the vaccine manufacturer’s separate indemnity agreement to finalize the delivery of vaccines.
In the face of the delays, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. is still hoping the government can launch its nationwide vaccination program this February.
The Philipine government plans to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipino this year under its immunization program.