The delayed arrival of vaccines has forced the government to review its strategy on how to effectively distribute available doses, taking into consideration the explosion of coronavirus
disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in India.
The Department of Health (DoH) said the vaccine cluster is “restrategizing” the vaccine rollout with the delayed arrival of Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccine because of logistical challenges.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government’s vaccine cluster is reviewing the vaccination rollout to determine how to apportion other vaccines that will arrive in the country.
“Because of what has happened in India, they have stopped their commitments to other countries… nag-restrategize ang vaccine cluster on how we can be able to apportion ‘yung mga darating na bakuna (The vaccine cluster has re-strategized on how we can be able to apportion those arriving doses),” Vergeire told reporters in a media forum on Wednesday.
She explained that vaccines that will be shipped to the country from May to July will be redistributed to ensure flexibility amid vaccine arrival delays.
“Flexible po ang mga plano natin so we can be able to adapt and adjust if there are things that will happen (Our plans are flexible so we can adapt and adjust if there are things that will happen),” Vergeire said.
She said there will be no changes in the scheduled deliveries of the CoronaVac vaccine from Chinese manufacturer Sinovac Biotech after a slowdown in vaccinations in Latin America because of delays in the production of the vaccine.
“Sa ngayon, we are not yet informed of these delays, kung meron man, dahil ‘yung commitment ay nandun pa rin (we have not been informed of the delays, and if there are, the commitment remains),” the Health official added.
The Philippines expects to receive 500,000 more doses of CoronaVac this month.
The government aims to refocus its distribution of vaccinations in specific areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases.
To do that, the government plans to build more vaccination sites with the help of the private sector and hire additional vaccinators.
As of April 28, the country had administered 1.809 million vaccines, consisting of 1.562 million first doses and 246,986 second doses.
On Wednesday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. confirmed that the delivery of the first batch of Sputnik V vaccine was cancelled because there were no direct flights from Russia to Manila.
“We confirm that logistical challenges resulted in the delay of the arrival of 15,000 trial orders of Sputnik V,” Roque said in a statement.
The vaccines should be stored at a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius, a requirement that cannot be met for now.
Roque gave assurances that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. was doing his best to address the logistical problems.
“Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez has taken steps to address these challenges and aims to receive the initial order of the Russian in the month of May instead,” he said.
The country is also expecting the delivery of 480,000 Sputnik V doses on April 29 and another 2 million vials in May.
Roque did not say if these shipments will push through.
Testing czar Vivencio Dizon on Monday said five cities in Metro Manila would participate in the rollout of 15,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine.
He said that Manila, Taguig, Makati, Parañaque and Muntinlupa will each receive 3,000 doses.