COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines

COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines

LATEST UPDATE: July 22, 2021 - 8:18am
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July 22, 2021

Another 1.5 million doses of Sinovac vaccine arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday. 

According to government data, around 5.03 million of the Philippines' total 109 million population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 almost five months into the government's inoculation campaign. 

July 15, 2021

Presidential adviser Joey Concepcion and several government officials welcome the arrival of the first tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines procured by the private sector.

“We are welcoming a total of 1.15M doses of AstraZeneca vaccines today ordered by the private sector and another 1.15 million doses in August and the rest are expected to be delivered in the coming months. A total of 2.75 million employees from close to 500 companies are expected to benefit from this—not to mention those who will benefit from the LGU procured doses,” Concepcion says.

“We want to help the government so that we can execute the vaccine rollout in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Allowing us to execute, we could focus on the vaccination of our employees, the LGUs could focus on its constituents, and the national government could focus on the rest that are not covered. We need a fast and almost perfect rollout and the private sector, with the arrival of these initial doses from AstraZeneca, can now do that for its employees," he adds.

June 28, 2021

The Philippine vaccination program has officially administered 10,065,414 doses COVID-19 vaccine, the Palace says.

A ceremonial 10 millionth dose was administered Monday morning in Valenzuela City.

June 25, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has received the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19, the Presidential Security Group says.

Members of the PSG were among the first in the Philippines to receive the Sinopharm jabs, which they administered on themselves late last year despite the Food and Drug Authority not including it among COVID-19 vaccines allowed for use in the country.

The FDA later issued a compassionate use permit for it. 

June 24, 2021

A shipment of 2 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on Thursday morning.


June 20, 2021

The Philippine government signs a supply agreement for 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. says.

“We are very happy to report that the government and the management of Pfizer have finally concluded our negotiations. Secretary Duque and I signed yesterday the supply agreement for the biggest and most decisive deal we had for 2021,” Galvez says.

The deliveries of the vaccines will begin "after eight weeks starting August" and the shipments will be delivered in bulk, according to the vaccine czar. —  Photo from NTF COVID-19

June 20, 2021

The Philippines breaches the 8 million mark in the number of anti-COVID-19 jabs administered, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr says.

“There’s no letup in our vaccination campaign. All sectors of society are working together so that we can start to move on from this pandemic, bring back a greater sense to our lives, and further open up our economy,” Galvez says.

Data from the National Vaccination Operations Center show that as of June 18, a total of 8,050,711 jabs have been administered nationwide. Of this figure, 5,953,810 were given as the first dose, while 2,096,901 were administered as the second dose.

June 17, 2021

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for private sector use arrives in the Philippines on Thursday.

At least 1.5 million does of Chinese-made Sinovac vaccines lands in Manila, 500,000 of which will be for the sole use by companies and private organizations for their inoculation efforts for employees and qualified personnel.

This is part of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry's tripartite agreement with IP Biotech, Inc. and the national government. — Photo release from FFCCCII

June 15, 2021

Japan is donating AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko announces on his Twitter account.

"[W]e'll make sure to deliver them at the soonest possible time so no one gets left behind during this pandemic," he also says.

June 11, 2021

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo says that as far as he knows all of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

He says the court asked for justices to be classified as A4. Some of the justices are also already senior citizens.

June 10, 2021

More than 2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax facility arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday night.

More than 200,000 doses will be distributed to Cebu and Davao while the remaining doses are for Metro Manila.

June 10, 2021

Another 1 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine have arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Vaccination of economic frontliners, or workers in the A4 category, kicked off this month.

June 7, 2021

The government marks the rollout of vaccines for the A4, or economic frontliners, category with a ceremony at a mall in Pasay City.

Around 35 million Filipinos are in the priority group, which has been expanded to include all who are required to physically report to work.

Pandemic restrictions have seen some Filipinos shift to remote work or work-from-home arrangements but many employees, especially those in the service sector, do not have that option.

May 19, 2021

Vice President Leni Robredo has been vaccinated against COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Quezon City.

Robredo, who received her first dose of the AstraZeneca jab, is in the A3 ( people with comorbidities) category.

May 7, 2021

The Department of Health announces the resumption of the use of AstraZeneca jab for all eligible population following the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration and the DOH All Experts Group on Vaccines.

The health department urges the public to get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

"The benefits of additional protection against COVID-19 could only be achieved by completing both doses of the vaccine," the DOH says in a statement.

May 7, 2021

The regional health minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said there is no basis for insinuations that COVID-19 vaccines are forbidden in Islam.

Medical workers from the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Maguindanao gave Bangsamoro Health Minister Bashary Latiph a Sinovac anti-coronavirus jab Thursday.

Latiph reiterated his appeal to residents in all cities and provinces in BARMM to ignore fallacies and assertions on Facebook by skeptics and pessimists who are not even medical practitioners that vaccines can do more harm than good.

“Listen only to BARMM’s Health Ministry, to the Department of Health and to health workers in provinces and in cities in the Bangsamoro region,” Latiph told reporters after he got an anti-COVID-19 shot. — The STAR/John Unson

May 5, 2021

The Philippines approves the application of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Food and Drug Administration Director general Eric Domingo says it only took nine days to review the emergency use authority application.

"The known and potential benefits of Moderna, when used to prevent COVID-19, outweigh the known and potential risks of the said vaccine," Domingo says during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

May 3, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has been vaccinated against COVID-19, reportedly with the Sinopharm vaccine.

May 3, 2021

A total of 1,510 tourism frontline workers have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of April 30, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says.

Workers from DOT-accredited and LGU-licensed quarantine/isolation facilities and non-quarantine DOT accredited accommodation establishments are included in the A4 Priority Group.

"We have also received word that LGUs who have already covered the majority of those in the A1 to A3 classification will also begin vaccinating those in the A4 group," Romulo-Puyat says in a statement.

April 26, 2021

A lawmaker files House Bill 9252 or the "Mandatory COVID-19 Immunization Act of 2021," seeking to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for persons as determined by the Department of Health.

Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. (Dasmariñas City, Cavite) proposes that the vaccination should be free at any government hospital or health center.

"As legislators we have a legal responsibility to pass a law to further prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of COVID-19 and address our present crisis. Mass vaccination has the power to end the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce the virus to a manageable risk and let normal life resume," the lawmaker says.

April 19, 2021

The Department of Health approves the resumption of the distribution of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to persons below 60 years old.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says this was upon the recommendation of the country's Food and Drug Administration.

April 16, 2021

As approved by the inter-agency task force on COVID-19, Priority Group A4 of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Development Plan will include:

  • commuter transport (land, air and sea), including logistics
  • public and private wet and dry market vendors 
  • frontline workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services 
  • workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products 
  • frontline workers in food retail, including food service delivery
  • frontline workers in private and government financial services 
  • frontline workers in hotels and accommodation establishments 
  • priests, rabbis, imams and other religious leaders 
  • security guards/personnel assigned in offices, agencies and organizations identified in the list of priority industries/sectors
  • frontline workers in private and government news media 
  • customer-facing personnel of telecoms, cable and internet service providers, electricity distribution and water distribution utilities
  • frontline personnel in basic education and higher education institutions and agencies 
  • overseas Filipino workers, including those scheduled for deployment within two months 
  • frontline workers in law/justice, security, and social protection sectors
  • frontline government workers engaged in the operations of government transport system, quarantine inspection worker safety inspection and other COVID-19 response activities 
  • frontline government workers in charge of tax collection, assessment of businesses for incentives, election, national ID, data collection personnel 
  • diplomatic community and Department of Foreign Affairs personnel in consular operations 
  • Department of Public Works and Highways personnel in charge of monitoring government infrastructure
April 15, 2021

The US, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will provide P170 million in support to help the Department of Health rollout the government's COVID-19 vaccination program.

According to the US Embassy, the aid was announced by US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law during a visit to a Caloocan City vaccination site with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials.

"Through this new funding, USAID will support the Philippines in strengthening the vaccine supply chain, monitoring vaccine safety, and delivering effective communication campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy.  This assistance will also support local government units as they plan for, track, and administer vaccines."

April 13, 2021

Top US health authorities recommended a "pause" in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine "out of an abundance of caution" as they investigate any links between it and blood clots, a regulator said Tuesday.

The US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are assessing the "potential significance" of six reported cases of a rare blood clot in patients who have received the shot, the FDA tweeted. 

"Until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause," it said.

The regulator said that as of Monday more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered in the US.

"CDC & FDA are reviewing data involving 6 reported U.S. cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare," the FDA stated on Twitter. — AFP 

April 13, 2021

Some 20 million doses of Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the Philippines within the next four months.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. says the government will sign a supply agreement with Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute this week.

“It can be used on the elderly, so from 18 and above. So we can use this and the good thing is at least in the absence of AstraZeneca, we can use this,” Galvez says in an interview with ANC's "Headstart."

April 8, 2021

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian gets his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

A post on Valenzuela City's official Twitter account says the mayor chose Chinese-made Sinovac.

April 7, 2021

Germany's Bavaria region has signed a provisional agreement to buy doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine once it is approved by European regulators, state premier Markus Soeder said Wednesday.

The southern state has "signed a memorandum of understanding today... for the supply of Sputnik," Soeder told reporters in Munich. 

If the Sputnik vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Bavaria is set to receive around 2.5 million doses in the coming months through a company in the Bavarian town of Illertissen, Soeder said. — AFP

April 5, 2021

At least 795,320 Filipinos have been vaccinated with their first dose vaccine against COVID-19 as of April 3.

Data from the National Task Force against COVID-19 shows that 765,871 of those who were already vaccinated are frontline healthcare workers, 16,121 are senior citizens and 13,288 are individuals with comorbidity.

April 5, 2021

Judiciary employees are now included in priority population group A4 of the country's vaccination plan for COVID-19.

The judiciary earlier appealed to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. to include justices, judges and court personnel in the list of frontline government workers in the justice sector.

"Finally, the letter-request expresses that the Judiciary's continuing in-court operations despite the existence of community quarantines run the risk of exposing its employees/personnel to COVID-19 infections, who in turn, regularly interact with other stakeholders that already fall in the priority groups of the Philippines National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines," Perlas-Bernabe says.

April 5, 2021

US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson files for emergency use authorization of its single-dose COVUD-19 vaccine in the Philippines.

Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo confirms this, noting that the government is targeting 5 million doses.

April 1, 2021

As of March 30, 738,913 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 says.

At least 2,596 vaccination sites are conducting inoculations across all regions as of March 16.

"With the recent arrival of 1M doses of procured vaccines, the total number of available doses have doubled, and doses distributed throughout the country have significantly increased, with a total of 1,468,200 doses delivered," the task force says.

VACCINE ROLLOUT UPDATE: 30 March 2021 As of 16 March 2021, 2,596 vaccination sites are conducting COVID-19 vaccination...

Posted by National Task Force Against Covid19 on Wednesday, 31 March 2021
March 29, 2021

Persons with comorbidities will be vaccinated simultaneously with health workers and the elderly, the Department of Health says.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says there is evidence that other countries were able to ramp up their vaccine rollout through this way.

The DOH will release the final protocol on vaccine prioritization of those with comorbidities within the day.

March 26, 2021

The Department of Health clarifies that only healthcare workers are eligible to be included in the quick substitution list for COVID-19 vaccination.

March 25, 2021

Mayors around the country are asserting they have very important roles in the community, reason why they too should be prioritized in the vaccination drives. 

“Tumatayong ama o ina ng lokal na komunidad”, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) National President Luis “Chavit” Singson said, explaining the essential role of mayors with the recent issue on cutting priority line in COVID19 vaccination list.

Said Singson, now Narvacan, Ilocos Sur mayor, “mayors cannot be blamed for taking the lead to prove that vaccines are safe under (their) jurisdiction.”   Seeing the mayors themselves getting vaccinated would lessen the fear of their constituents, Singson emphasized, amid the still seething doubt of the vaccines efficacy. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

March 24, 2021

The Department of Health will look into reports of people not on the vaccination priority list receiving vaccines, President Rodrigo Duterte says.

He says he has a list of the people who jumped the priority list but will not read out the names. 

March 24, 2021

The second batch of Chinese-donated COVID-19 vaccines arrives in the Philippines.

The Philippines receives another 400,000 additional doses of Sinovac, in addition to the initial 600,000 doses that arrived last February 28.

“We are grateful for the arrival of additional donated vaccines. The arrival of these vaccines could not have occurred at a more opportune time considering the continued rise in cases, which in turn increases the need to inoculate more high-risk individuals assoon as possible,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says.

March 22, 2021

At least 400,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government are expected to arrive in the Philippines later this week.

"This will be China's second donation to the Philippines after airlifting the 600,000 Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines three weeks ago, which will bring the total amount of donation to one million doses," Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian says.

Race against time! The second batch of China-donated Vaccines is arriving soon. My team has been working round the...

Posted by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on Sunday, 21 March 2021
March 21, 2021

There is no truth to rumors that members of the House will be getting AstraZeneca vaccines ahead of those on the priority list, the head of the House vaccination program committee says Sunday.

"That's fake news. It’s absolutely not true that there will be COVID-19 vaccination in the House in the next few days or coming week," he says in response to claims on Facebook that members of the House and their relatives will be getting doses from the vaccines from the COVAX facility.

"The House is following the vaccine rollout as programmed by the IATF. It is clear to us that we can only be vaccinated once the priority groups are inoculated. We expect the vaccines to arrive in Congress during the second half of the year at the earliest."

March 18, 2021

Ecuador investigators raid the health ministry on Wednesday as part of a probe into influence peddling against former health minister Juan Carlos Zevallos.

Zevallos resigned last month over a vaccine scandal that saw well-connected individuals, including his mother, jump the queue for their coronavirus jabs.

"In the operation, information is being collected on the vaccination plan and the list of beneficiaries" of immunization against Covid-19, the public prosecutor's office says on Twitter. —  AFP

March 14, 2021

Almost 6,000 health workers in the highland Cordillera have already been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines.  

The Department of Health-Cordillera Regional Vaccination Operation Center reported that as of March 13, 2021, a total of 5,795 healthcare workers and personnel of the different hospitals and health facilities have received the CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac.

Another 618 healthcare workers got vaccinated with the AstraZenca vaccine.

The highland region received 7,800 Sinovac doses which were deployed to the different provinces and cities in Cordillera, while deployment of AstraZeneca vaccines is still ongoing. 

Baguio City and Benguet have already received an initial allocation of AstraZeneca. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

March 14, 2021

The government should put up a vaccine tracker so the public can easily check progress of vaccination efforts against COVID-19, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"Ang taumbayan ang magbabayad ng mga utang na iyan. A vaccine tracker updated daily and accurately will be especially important when we start receiving the vaccines we paid for. Magiging money trail din natin ito para malaman kung saan napupunta ang bilyun-bilyong pisong inutang natin. We should be able to see that our money is being put to good and efficient use," she says. 

The vaccination program against COVID-19 has already kicked off, but, Hontiveros says, "we are mostly left in the dark" on how many have been inoculated and how many health workers and frontliners have yet to get jabs.

March 12, 2021

There is no reason to ban AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines as its benefits continue to outweigh the risk, the Department of Health says Friday.

The DOH, Food and Drug Administration and the National Task Force on COVID-19 say it will continue to monitor the country's vaccination program.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Italy have suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab over fears it could be linked to blood clots. 

March 8, 2021

The Philippines will receive a total of 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the WHO co-led COVAX facility.

In an interview with ANC's "Headstart," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says there is no indicative timeline of the arrival of Pfizer vaccines in the country while Moderna jabs are expected to arrive by June.

March 6, 2021

At least 38,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX facility are arriving on Sunday, the Department of Health says.

March 4, 2021

The plane carrying AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility has landed at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Photo: PCOO-Office of Global Media and Public Affairs

March 4, 2021

At least 8,559 persons have received the first dose of Sinovac vaccine as of March 3, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

These were administered in 32 sites in Metro Manila.

The Cabinet official adds that 189,600 of the 600,000 donated Sinovac vaccines ahve already been delivered.

March 3, 2021

Contradicting Malacanang, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. says he cannot confirm the arrival of initial shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax facility.

"I cannot confirm yet. Dalawang beses na kaming nakuryente diyan. Mabuti i-confirm 'pag may plane nang lumipad from Belgium," Galvez was quoted, as reported by ABS-CBN News.

March 3, 2021

An initial shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility are expected to arrive on Thrusday, March 4, the Palace says.

The shipment will have 487,200 and will arrive around 7:30 p.m., the Palace also says. This is down from the 527,600 doses earlier announced to arrive on March 1, and that did not, in fact, arrive.

March 3, 2021

IATF member and DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra says persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are senior citizens are included in the government's priority list for its COVID-19 mass vaccination program.

The IATF, however, has not mentioned PDLs as a specific group in its classification of persons for priority vaccination.

"So when we speak of senior citizens as a priority group, this will cut across a broad range of individuals, including those serving time or under detention, in their own internal order of preference," Guevarra says. —  report from The STAR/Evelyn Macairan

March 2, 2021

The Department of Health in the Zamboanga Peninsula says it is ready to roll out the inoculation of the Sinovac vaccines donated by China that arrived in the country last Sunday. 

Dr. Joshua Brilliantes, Department of Health-9, says the region is expected to receive by March 7 the vaccines from the central office in Manila.

According to Brilliantes, the Zamboanga Peninsula will receive only a portion of 100,000 vaccine doses from 600,000 that China flew in. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 2, 2021

The Department of Health records 13 adverse events following the rollout of the Sinovac vaccines on Monday.

These include pain in the injected area, rashes, headaches and nausea but the DOH notes that these are common and minor.

"Nobody was admitted. All of them were observed, managed," Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire says in Filipino.

March 1, 2021

The country's Food and Drug Administration says Sinopharm has not yet applied for emergency use authorization, contradicting the remark of Malacañang.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo says he has not seen any application as of Friday.

"Im not sure if they filed online. Im alone at the office today. FDA is closed because it's Araw ng Muntinlupa holiday here in Alabang," Domingo tells Philstar.com. — report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

March 1, 2021

Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm has filed an application for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines, Malacañang says.

This is the same brand that the Presidential Security Group used last year, which were smuggled into the country.

March 1, 2021

UP-PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi receives the first COVID-19 shot in the country.

He was vaccinated with the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech. —  Gaea Katreena Cabico

February 28, 2021

The shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility, which the Palace announced on Saturday would arrive on Monday, will not be arriving as scheduled, Health Secretary Duque says.

He says there are issues in supply.

Earlier Sunday, 600,000 doses of Sinovac CoronaVac arrived in Manila on a Chinese military plane.

February 28, 2021

China state media CGTN reports the Chinese military has already delivered a batch of donated COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines.

February 26, 2021

Filipino soldiers may choose which COVID-19 vaccine brand they want to get inoculated with but they must pay if they opt out of using Sinovac, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo says Friday.

The AFP aims to vaccinate all soldiers, with 304 medical services personnel, 72 vaccination teams and 47 vaccination sites ready.

"Pwede pong pumili ng ibang brand ng bakuna ang ating mga sundalo, sabihin lang po nila na gusto nila ng ibang brand... Subalit dahil nga po hindi naman 'yun ang laan para sa AFP na kailangang mabakunahan, kailangan po sila ay ang magbabayad ng brand ng bakuna na gustong maiturok sa kanila," Arevalo says at a press briefing.

February 25, 2021

The 600,000 donated doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive on Sunday, February 28, the Palace says.

February 24, 2021

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca says its EU supply chains would only be able to deliver half of an expected supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc in the second quarter — but that it would look to make up the shortfall from elsewhere.

A spokesman for the British drugs group tells AFP AstraZeneca was "working to increase productivity in its EU supply chain" and would use its "global capability in order to achieve delivery of 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter". 

"Approximately half of the expected volume is due to come from the EU supply chain" while the remainder would come from its international supply network, he adds. —  AFP

February 23, 2021

Special envoy to China Mon Tulfo, who is also a columnist, says on ONE News, that he and other government officials were vaccinated with smuggled and unauthorized Sinopharm jabs.

Tulfo said he did not use his position as special envoy to get the Sinopharm doeses. "I just got hold of the vaccine from a friend who smuggled it into the country," he says on ONE News' "The Chiefs".

He says that other government officials also received the smuggled vaccine, "I just cant give their names," he says in Filipino.

He adds that others who received the smuggled vaccines were "Cabinet-level" officials and at least one senator.

February 22, 2021

The House of Representatives has passed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program bill on second reading.

A provision of the bill provides funding to cover expenses for people who have adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. The House bill creates a P500-million indemnity fund for this. A previous verison of the bill did not specify the amount of funding. 

Since the bill has been certified urgent, the House may dispense with the "three-day rule" and pass it on third and final on the same day. 

February 22, 2021

The country's Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese firm Sinovac.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo says the Chinese vaccine can be used among clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years. However, it is not recommended for use among healthcare workers.

"The use of Sinovac vaccine on health workers is not recommended as it has 50.4% efficacy rate for this group," Domingo says. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

February 17, 2021

Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez says vaccine manufacturers want an indemnification agreement, citing the previous issue with Dengvaxia.

Galvez reports that the government is working on such an agreement with Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

An indemnification agreement "holds a business or company harmless" in case of unexpected adverse events.

February 16, 2021

British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca can no longer accept orders for its COVID-19 vaccine, according to presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.

Concepcion says AstraZeneca does not have enough supply anymore.

February 9, 2021

The New People's Army will open a humanitarian corridor for the safe and unimpeded passage of COVID-19 vaccines in guerilla base areas and zones.

Marco Valbuena, information officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, suggests that military vehicles should not transport the vaccines.

"Using AFP to transport the vaccines will not encourage people to be vaccinated especially in many areas in the countryside where people are traumatized by military garrisoning of their communities and helicopter gunships firing missiles," Valbuena says.

February 8, 2021

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill to exempt COVID-19 vaccines from import duties and from value-added tax, its chairman announces.

"Although the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act already exempts COVID-19 from VAT and from import duties, there is some room for interpretation on whether the duties apply to all importers, or only to registered enterprises. That is especially because we were only dealing with duty incentives in that bill. So, we want to make sure vaccines can be imported duty-free and without friction at the ports," Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay) says in a press release.

February 4, 2021

The Brazilian government announced Wednesday it was negotiating the purchase of 30 million coronavirus vaccine doses from Russia and India, after regulators made it easier for the treatments to win emergency-use authorizations.

Until now, only the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot and China's CoronaVac have been permitted in Brazil, the second-hardest-hit country after the US, with more than 226,000 deaths from Covid-19.

Brazil's health surveillance agency said it would no longer require final Phase 3 trials to be carried out in Brazil, clearing the way for the emergency authorization of Russia's Sputnik V and India's Covaxin vaccinations.

The health ministry said it is meeting with representatives from Russia and India on Friday to finalize details of a deal, which would see some 10 million Sputnik V doses and 20 million Covaxin doses delivered in February and March. — AFP

February 3, 2021

The National Task Force on COVID-19 should finalize its priority list and make it public so people included in the government vaccination program against COVID-19 will know if they are set to be inoculated against the novel coronavirus, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"The NTF should make the 'priority list' public so people will know if they are among those who will get the vaccine first," she says in Filipino. She says an information campaign on the priority list will also help prevent confusion and will keep others not on the list from juming the line.

The government says the vaccination program against COVID-19 will start this month and will be done in hospitals, clinics, offices of government agencies as well as at rural health units.

January 25, 2021

The Department of Health clarifies that the Philippines will continue to receive vaccine allocation for 20% of the population from the COVAX facility.

However, only 15% will be free while the remaining 5% will be shouldered by the country.

"The budget for the 5% has been secured. Hence, even with these changes in financing, rest assured that there will be no delays in delivery of the vaccines," DOH says.

January 21, 2021

The World Bank announces it will put $34 million into a program to provide coronavirus vaccines for more than two million people in Lebanon, which is experiencing a major surge in COVID-19 cases.

"This is the first World Bank-financed operation to fund the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines," the Washington-based institution says in a statement.

Lebanon, a country of more than six million, has been logging some 5,500 cases a day since the start of the year, the Bank says. — AFP

January 18, 2021

The Department of Health clarifies that the vaccine prices reported by the Senate are not the negotiated prices that the government and the manufacturer agreed on.

The vaccine prices that circulated earlier were indicative market prices based on rates published by drugmakers, the DOH says.

"The DOH urges the public to trust and respect the process that the country, through vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, is undertaking to ensure that Filipinos are afforded the best vaccines at the most ideal prices," the agency says in a statement.

January 14, 2021

The House of Representatives committee on Health will conduct its own hearing on the government's COVID-19 vaccination plan on January 18.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. have been invited as resource persons for the inquiry.

Representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Health Technology Assessment Council, Department of Science and Technology and World Health Organization have also been invited.

January 14, 2021

Sen. Grace Poe says the government should immediately negotiate the purchase and delivery of Pfizer vaccine now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved it for emergency use.

"The Filipinos have long waited for a safe and effective vaccine that would give them protection against COVID-19," Poe says in a statement.

"Negotiations with Pfizer should be prioritized over deals with other manufacturers whose products have yet to get FDA's approval," she adds.

January 14, 2021

China's Sinovac applies for emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine.

January 14, 2021

The Philippines approves Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

January 13, 2021

The Philippines may be able to get about 25 million to 40 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, according to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

"Hindi po tayo iniwan ng Pfizer. They made commitment, if they have excess from US and other countries, pwede magdeliver sa atin," Galvez tells President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting aired Wednesday night.

Galvez adds that the private sector also signed another deal with AstraZeneca, which allow the Philippines to purchase more or less 17 million doses.

January 13, 2021

Reacting to news that Sinovac's CoronaVac showed 50% general efficacy in studies in Brazil, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan called on the government cancel its order of 25 million doses of the drug.

On Twitter, Pangilinan wrote that the Chinese-made vaccine—the first major purchase by the national government—is six times more expensive than Astrazeneca's vaccine with 70% efficacy.

"Sinovac is more expensive yet having almost 20% lower efficacy. Given these latest findings, we call on the DoH to cancel the purchase of Sinovac vaccines," Pangilinan tweeted.

The national government has so far secured two official deals for COVID-19 vaccine supplies in the Philippines, one with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and another with the Serum Institute of India.

Watch this space for bite-sized developments on the vaccines in the Philippines. (Main image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

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