Logistical challenges again delay arrival of first Sputnik V doses in Philippines

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Logistical challenges again delay arrival of first Sputnik V doses in Philippines
This file photo taken on March 29, 2021 shows the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, during a vaccination campaign at the State Hospital in Cailungo, San Marino.
AFP / Andreas Solaro

MANILA, Philippines — Logistical challenges again hampered the delivery of the first 15,000 doses of the Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V, which were supposed to arrive in the Philippines Wednesday evening.

Malacañang confirmed Wednesday that logistical challenges, specifically the lack of direct flights from Russia and the difficulty of keeping the shots in sub-zero temperatures, has delayed the arrival of the jabs.

The government now expects the vaccines to arrive in May instead, but assured that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez has “taken steps to address these challenges.”

This is the second time that the arrival of the vaccine doses has been pushed back. The shots were originally scheduled to land on April 25, but its delivery was pushed back to April 28, before Malacañang confirmed that this also would not push through. 

ABS-CBN News first reported that the scheduled arrival of the first doses of Sputnik V was cancelled, citing airline sources who told them that the shots were not loaded on the Qatar Air flight scheduled to arrive 11 p.m. on Wednesday.

Russia approved the Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V vaccine in August 2020, becoming the first country to clear a jab for COVID-19.

In March, the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Sputnik V, paving the way for the shots to be administered once they arrive.

The Department of Health, however, said that not all local governments will receive the vaccine due to stringent handling and storage requirements, among them the need to be stored at temperatures not exceeding -18 degrees Celsius.

Sputnik V is taken in two doses, and has a 91.6% efficacy rate. Results from a peer-reviewed late-stage trial in The Lancet medical journal showed too that it is completely protective against severe forms of COVID-19.

Galvez has said that most of the Philippines’ vaccine supply would consist of the China-made Coronavac, with 4.5 million doses, and Sputnik V, with 4 million doses.

He also said that the country is negotiating for 20 million doses of the Russian-made jab.

Government data shows that since the start of the vaccination drive in March, 237,992 people have been fully vaccinated in the Philippines, while 1.5 million have received their first vaccine dose.

While the government touts that the Philippines is the third country in Southeast Asia with the most number of doses administered, it neglects to say that only around 1% of the population have been given a vaccine and has been administering shots at a snail’s pace owing partly to the scarce supply of jabs.



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

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)

January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

Government must increase vaccination capacity across the Philippines in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of the corona virus, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

She says local government units and the private sector can work together to put up more vaccination centers and deploy more vaccination teams to get more people inoculated against COVID-19.

"The active COVID cases have nearly doubled in three days. The positivity rate is almost four times the ceiling set by the World Health Organization. Huwag na nating hintayin na sobrang lumala pa ang sitwasyon bago tayo gumawa ng paraan para mapabilis ang ating pagbabakuna."

December 23, 2021 - 11:44am

FDA chief Eric Domingo says that its agency has given emergency approval for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

November 11, 2021 - 7:30am

The United States immunized around 900,000 children aged five-to-11 against Covid in the first week the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for them, a White House official says Wednesday.

Roughly 700,000 more have made appointments at pharmacies, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients tells reporters.

"The program is just getting up to full strength," he says, adding most of the shots were given in the last couple of days alone. — AFP

November 8, 2021 - 7:56pm

The Philippines has received 2.8 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia.

The shipment arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday night and was met by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

November 7, 2021 - 11:57am

A Department of the Interior and Local Government proposal to require Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries to get vaccinated before cash transfers to them can be released will not help the poor, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"Walang kundisyon sa 4Ps law na kailangang COVID-19 vaccinated ang recipients kaya dapat igalang at irespeto ng ating mga opisyal ang desisyon ng sinuman ukol sa pagbabakuna," she says. 

(The 4Ps Law does not include the condition that recipients must be vaccinated against COVID-19 so the government must respect people's decision to get vaccinated or not)

She says it would be better for government agencues like the social welfare and health departments to encourage 4Ps beneficiaries to get vaccinated but not as a condition to receive cash aid.

Hontiveros says encouragement and explanations have helped address vaccine hesitancy in Metro Manila.

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