MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines plans to speed up Covid-19 vaccinations and start inoculating its youth later this year after signing its biggest supply deal yet with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, the government’s vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said.
The 40 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech are expected to begin arriving from August and take the country’s total supply to 157 million, Galvez said in a statement on Sunday. That adds to deals for 26 million doses from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., 20 million from Moderna Inc., 17 million from AstraZeneca Plc. and 10 million from an agreement with Russia for Sputnik V, he said. A loan arrangement with the Asian Development Bank will fund the procurement of the Pfizer shots, Galvez said.
The country also has a commitment from Covax for 44 million doses, while a further 16 million from Novavax Inc. and Johnson & Johnson are still under negotiation, according to Galvez. As of June 18, the government had administered a little more than 8 million doses and targets ramping up the daily inoculation rate to 500,000 by the third quarter and at least 740,000 by the last three months of 2021 from a high of about 323,000 on June 15.
The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections in Southeast Asia, with 1.35 million as of June 19. Indonesia’s cases are approaching the 2 million mark.
The Philippines began vaccinating about 35 million workers this month and is monitoring how other countries inoculate their young population as guidance for about 29 million Filipinos in that age group, Galvez said on June 8. The economy, which suffered five straight quarters of contraction after implementing one of the world’s longest lockdowns last year, is counting on vaccines to aid its rebound.