There might be a COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines by May 2021, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the man responsible for leading the importation and distribution of the drug, said today.
Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte chose the former military man to become the country’s “vaccine czar,” despite the latter’s lack of experience in science and medicine. Galvez is already the government’s “chief implementer” of its anti-COVID-19 drive.
“If everything will go well, what will happen is that [the vaccine will become available] in May,” Galvez told cable channel ANC in English and Filipino.
However, if there are issues regarding supply and demand, the vaccination program may start by the end of 2021, he said. The government plans to purchase at least 24 million vaccines for Filipinos living in poor communities.
“Different companies will produce up to 1.4 billion vaccines…We are appealing to the WHO (World Health Organization) to give poor countries equitable access,” Galvez said.
He added that the vaccine’s availability would also largely depend on financing and the approval of the local Food and Drug Administration.
The Philippines yesterday reported its lowest number of COVID-19 cases in four months at 987, bringing the total tally to 388,137 cases, which includes 7,367 deaths and 349,091 recoveries. The Department of Health said the steep drop in daily cases was due to typhoon Goni’s effects.
“We further caution that this decrease may still be observed over the next few days, and maybe followed by a relative ‘increase’ in newly reported cases in the coming days or week,” the department said in a statement.