Manila, 25 November (efe-epa) – The Philippines plans to immunise 60 per cent of its population, about 65 million people, against covid-19 within five years once the vaccine becomes available.
“More or less 60 to 70 million people will receive the vaccine over a period of between three and five years”, said the head of the intergovernmental working group against covid-19, Carlito Galvez, at a press conference on Wednesday.
The government has identified 35 million Filipinos who will receive the first batch of vaccine doses, including health workers, police officers, military personnel, essential workers from the Departments of Education and Social Welfare, as well as disadvantaged families.
Galvez said that in the best case scenario the vaccine will be made available in the Philippines in the second quarter of 2021, but it is likely to arrive in late 2021 or early 2022.
“The government is able to vaccinate only about 20-30 million Filipinos a year,” Galvez said, meaning that the total Philippine population – about 108 million people – wouldn’t all be vaccinated until 2026.
The Philippine immunisation programme contrasts with plans in other developed countries such as Spain, Australia and Japan, which plan to vaccinate their entire populations by 2021.
Although President Duterte initially promised that the state would assume the cost of the vaccine for all Filipinos, the finance secretary, Carlos Dominguez, this week pointed out that the government has a budget of 73.2 billion pesos ($1.52 billion) for this purpose, which would cover only about 65 million people’s immunisations.
Although during the summer Duterte bet on the coronavirus vaccines developed by Russia and China, accusing American pharmaceutical companies of only seeking profit, the government is now negotiating the acquisition of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Although the Philippine government is ensuring that the vaccine is supplied only to priority sectors, private companies in the country are also making arrangements to guarantee doses to their employees and Filipinos willing to pay for the vaccine may be able to get it before the official immunisation plan covers them. EFE-EPA