Philippines Offers to Pay More to Get Earlier Vaccine Deliveries

The Philippines is offering to pay more to get earlier coronavirus vaccine deliveries, hoping to avert a supply crunch this quarter as the bulk of its orders this year will only come in the second half.

“We are negotiating to have early deliveries, even if the vaccines will be slightly more expensive,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. “This is our big problem: because of global demand our supply is very thin in the first quarter.”

Only 5.1 million of the 161 million doses expected for the year will arrive in the country this quarter, Galvez said. The first shipments will be Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccines donated by China, as well as those from the COVAX Facility which supplies shots to poor nations. These will be followed by 24.1 million shots in the second quarter.

Galvez said he’s negotiating with China, the U.K., India and Russia to boost vaccine deliveries in the first quarter so the Philippines can inoculate 1.7 million health workers and people in vulnerable groups. Under the current supply schedule, he said the major rollout of vaccines will only be in the second half.

The Philippines, which has the region’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak, is aiming to inoculate up to 70% of its population this year to help its economy recover from last year’s record slump.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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