Gov’t eyes 40 million doses of Pfizer shots by the third quarter

THE PHILIPPINES expects to take delivery of as many as 40 million doses of Pfizer, Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine by the third quarter, according to the presidential palace, amid criticisms of a slow vaccine rollout.

The government may get 20 to 40 million doses, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. told a televised news briefing on Tuesday.

He said government officials have signed a waiver freeing the drug maker from potential lawsuits in case of side effects, which would pave the way for the delivery.

The government would also take delivery of almost 200,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna, Inc., Mr. Galvez said.

The state ordered about 13 million doses from Moderna. The private sector, led by billionaire Enrique K. Razon, Jr. also bought 7 million doses.

The first shipment of Pfizer vaccines was supposed to have arrived in February but was delayed after officials failed to sign the so-called indemnification clause of the contract.

The government is set to sign a supply deal with another American company, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for as many as five million doses of its coronavirus vaccine.

Mr. Galvez said the country also expects about 20 million doses of the vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 8,571 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 884,783.

The death toll rose by 137 to 15,286, while recoveries increased by 400 to 703,963, it said in a bulletin.

There were 165,534 active cases, 96.9% of which were mild, 1.8% did not show symptoms, 0.4% were critical, 0.5% were severe and 0.31% were moderate.

The agency on April 2 reported the highest daily tally of 15,310 cases since the pandemic started last year.

DoH said 13 duplicates had been removed from the tally and 53 recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Nine laboratories failed to submit data on April 12.

About 10.2 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of April 11, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 137.3 million and killed three million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization. About 110.5 million people have recovered, it said.

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night admitted the country was facing a shortage of coronavirus vaccines due to global supply problems. He said rich countries were being prioritized for the vaccines.

The Philippines is aiming to vaccinate 70 million people this year. More than a million Filipinos have been vaccinated as of Tuesday since the program started last month.

Meanwhile, testing czar Vivencio V. Dizon said coronavirus tests conducted nationwide increased by more than 10,000 last week.

The country held more than 60,000 tests daily from April 6 to 10 from 50,000 tests a day a week earlier, he said at the same briefing.

Mr. Dizon said more than 50,000 antigen test kits would be deployed this month in communities with outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said the government would set up 720 health facilities with 26,259 beds this month.

The Philippines has more than 9,700 temporary treatment and monitoring facilities with 128,037 beds.

Mr. Villar said the highest occupancy rate had been seen in the National Capital Region, where a third of its 6,985 beds had been occupied as of April 11.

“We will continue to identify new areas and within the month and next month we will see a very significant increase in our hospital and intensive care unit capacity,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas