NOVAVAX DEAL. Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. announces during the Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday (March 16, 2021) that the Philippines signed a supply agreement with India's Serum Institute for the acquisition of 30 million doses of Novavax vaccine. The delivery is expected by the third and fourth quarters this year. (Screengrab photo from RVTM)

MANILA – The Philippines has signed a supply agreement with the Serum Institute of India for the acquisition of 30 million doses of Novavax vaccine, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. announced on Tuesday.

The vaccine czar said they are just waiting for the approval of the Serum Institute's application for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), and the Philippines.

The government expects the vaccines to be delivered by the third and fourth quarters this year.

"Naging maganda ang resulta ng pagbyahe natin sa India nung isang linggo (Our travel to India last week produced positive results)," Galvez said during the Laging Handa press briefing.

The country is likewise slated to receive 1.4 million doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac within this month.

Through the COVAX Facility, the World Health Organization (WHO) is also scheduled to deliver the second tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines by late March or early April, Galvez added.

Galvez likewise reported that about 216,794 medical front-liners and other healthcare workers have been vaccinated as of 11 a.m. on March 16.

As of 15 March, a total of 929 vaccination sites are conducting inoculations in 17 regions.

"We want to emphasize that the initial vaccine rollout is only for medical front-liners belonging to the A1 priority list of the Department of Health," he said in Filipino.

The government is strictly observing its schedule and system in the vaccination of the healthcare workers.

"It must be well-calibrated and done by batches," he said. "There is a need to observe this schedule to protect the integrity of the healthcare system."

Once the inoculation of the health workers is completed by the first or second week of April, Galvez said it will immediately be followed by the senior citizens.

The NTF reported about 96 percent of available doses in the country have already been distributed, reaching the northernmost and southernmost island provinces.

The government assured the vaccination rollout for the general public will immediately be implemented, once the bulk of government-procured vaccines intended for the next priority groups arrived. (PNA)