PH VAX PROGRAM.  Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) chief and testing czar Secretary Vince Dizon proudly shows his arm vaccinated with CoronaVac at the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium in Caloocan City on Monday (March 1, 2021). The vaccine which was manufactured by Sinovac from China, was also administered to Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium chief, Dr. Alfonso Victorino Famaran Jr., and the hospital’s Chief of the Nursing Service, Samuel Sumilang. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 2 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines will buy a million doses of the Sinovac vaccine worth P700 million within the month, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday.

Galvez explained that there was a global shortage of other brands of COVID-19 vaccines, and Sinovac and Sputnik V were the only ones available.

“Kaya po tayo, mayroon tayong procurement this coming March, mayroon po tayong one million from Sinovac,” Galvez explained during the briefing held on the first day of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“May PO tayo na one million. Ang ginagawa kasi natin, ang agreement natin sa Sinovac, iyong per PO, ibig sabihin iyong Purchase Order, iyong Purchase Order na one million, mayroon na po tayong pondo doon. Ang pondo po natin doon is P700 million,” he added.

Sinovac, administered in two doses, is the only available COVID-19 vaccine brand in the country so far, with 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine donated by China arriving in the country on Sunday afternoon.

“So once na napirmahan na po namin iyon, dadating po ang one million doses this coming March po, in tranches po. Nakita po natin iyong 500,000 [doses] ay [isasakay sa] isang malaking eroplano po iyon, so in two tranches po iyon,” Galvez pointed out.

Sinovac Biotech general manager Helen Yang said Monday they are still discussing the shipment with the Philippine government.

“We are discussing with the Philippine government to arrange another one million doses in March. We’re working on that,” Yang said.

He also said that the country’s supply agreements with COVID-19 vaccine brands Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Novavax were still pending.

Aside from Sinovac, other COVID-19 vaccine brands issued emergency use authorization by the Philippine FDA were Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

The country’s expected Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine supply from the COVAX facility, however, had yet to be delivered due to limited supplies, according to Galvez. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Travelers no longer required to undergo Covid-19 test, quarantine