National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. | PNA file photo

The government is eyeing to acquire huge volume of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines in the third quarter of 2021, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday.

In a virtual briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Galvez said the government has ongoing negotiations with nine pharmaceutical companies in different countries.

“Sa ngayon po mayroon na tayong (So far, we are conducting) advance negotiation sa apat po na malalaking kumpanya at patuloy po ang (with four big companies) exploratory talks sa (with) other five companies,” he added.

Despite citing some challenges in acquiring the vaccines, Galvez assured that the government is doing its best to access the vaccine shots for the country.

However, Galvez noted that about 80 percent of the available vaccine supplies have already been procured by rich countries.

“Sa ngayon po (so far) most probably baka magkaroon po tayo ng (we are expecting to acquire the) vaccine ng (in the) first quarter, most probably by March, and then also, ang mga (the acquisition of the) second tranche is [in the] second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter,” Galvez said. “But we are expecting ‘yung (the) volumes of the vaccines will be coming [in] the early third quarter [of 2021].”

He added that the country is negotiating with Pfizer Inc. while still waiting for the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the United Kingdom’s AstraZenica vaccines.

Galvez said there is also a positive result in the government’s agreement with China’s Sinovac.

He is optimistic to finalize the agreement early next week.

“Pagkalabas kasi ‘yung (After the release of the) EUA, [emergency use authorization] ng (of the) originating country, ‘yun ang pinaka-cue natin kasi (that will serve as our cue) with the regulatory requirement ng ating (with our) multilateral arrangement with Asian Development Bank at tsaka ‘yung (and with the) World Bank,” he said.

Galvez added that all the procurement will be done through multilateral arrangements with the Asian Development Bank and with World Bank wherein they require stringent regulatory compliance.

“Karamihan po sa ating mga pirmahan, pinipilit po namin na magkaroon ng (On most of our agreement signing, we are trying to push for) initial success this December and mostly on January [2021], dahil ‘yung mga kinokontrata nating mga vaccine ay magkakaroon ng EUA (because most of the vaccine deals could get EUA) this coming January pa,” he said.

To date, the country’s testing capacity has an average of 25,000 to 30,000 daily, he added. (PNA)