(PNA file photo by Gil Calinga) 

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said two more countries have offered to donate bivalent vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

"So, ngayon, patuloy po ang ating negosasyon at pakikipag-usap dito po sa mga bansang ito para agad-agad makumpirma natin kung talagang acceptable and it can be utilized kaagad-agad dito sa ating bansa (So now, we’re continuing with the negotiations and discussions with these countries to confirm if they are acceptable and can be utilized in our country immediately)," Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing.

The DOH is yet to name the two countries.

Last week, the agency disclosed the country is expected to receive 300,000 doses of bivalent Covid-19 jabs from one country apart from the initial donation of 1,002,000 million doses from the COVAX Facility, the worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are now finalizing our guidelines, meron na lang po kaming (we have our) last meeting with our strategic advisory group of experts for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. This will happen I think if not today tomorrow,” Vergeire said.

The guidelines could be out next week once the guidelines are finalized and approved by the DOH’s executive committee so local governments can start with their preparations, she added.

For the first batch of donated jabs from the COVAX Facility, the A1 (health care workers), A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (individuals with comorbidities) will be prioritized.

As for the extension of the shelf life of 6 million doses of monovalent Covid-19 vaccines, Vergeire said the Food and Drug Administration is still “following up on the application or request for their re-extension”.

Hindi natin masasayang ‘yung ating mga monovalent vaccines ‘pag dumating na ‘yung (Our monovalent vaccines won’t be wasted with the arrival of the) bivalent vaccines kase we are now integrating our bivalent vaccination into our entire Covid-19 vaccination program,” she said.

As of February 13, almost 73.9 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated including the 6.9 million senior citizens, 10 million adolescents, and 5.5 million children inoculated.

Almost 21.5 million individuals have received their first booster dose and more than 3.9 million have received their second booster shots. (PNA)