The delivery of two major brands of COVID-19 vaccines this month may be delayed further as bureaucratic roadblocks hamper the release of the vaccines.
Bureaucratic roadblocks further delay rollout of vaccines in PH
Filipinos may have to wait longer for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the country, originally scheduled this month.
The problem is that the suppliers of the two major COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines - Pfizer and Sinovac - have yet to settle the necessary paperwork needed to expedite the delivery of vaccines to the country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the case of Pfizer, WHO representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said health authorities are still "waiting for an indemnification agreement coming from the manufacturer."
The Pfizer-BioNTech agreement has not been sent out to any of the countries involved in the early rollout, Abeyasinghe added.
The indemnification agreement would absolve manufacturers of liability in case of adverse effects of vaccines, which have been authorized only for emergency use.
National Task Force on COVID-19 head Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines had signed the indemnification agreements for COVAX and the different manufacturers, and only needed Pfizer and AstraZeneca to submit their own indemnification agreements.
Meanwhile, in the case of Sinovac, health authorities are still waiting for an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA said it could not give a time frame for the grant of emergency use authorization to Sinovac.
“We are still evaluating their latest submissions. I can’t give a time frame until all submissions are evaluated,” FDA chief Eric Domingo told the Inquirer in a text message.
“I have received information that unless the [Sinovac emergency use authorization] is delivered today, the delivery on the 23rd may be delayed,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Under the government’s plan, the initial rollout of the vaccines is expected in the first quarter of the year, with workers in government-run hospitals, elderly people, and uniformed personnel as the priority groups.
Some 5 million to 10 million doses are expected to arrive in the first two quarters of the year, Galvez said. The full rollout is scheduled in the third quarter, when the bulk of the vaccines is expected to be delivered.
The government aims to vaccinate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos by the end of the year. (ONT)