* Deliveries to begin in late September
* Philippines has secured 113 mln doses from vaccine
* Government wants to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos
MANILA, June 20 (Reuters) - The Philippine government has
signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of the COVID-19
vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE,
in its biggest coronavirus vaccine deal to date.
Deliveries of the vaccine will begin in late September,
Carlito Galvez, head of the government's COVID-19 vaccine
procurement, said on Sunday. It "will significantly boost our
national immunisation programme and will enable us to realise
our goal of achieving herd immunity by year-end," he said.
The Philippines has now ordered 113 million doses from five
vaccine manufacturers, including 26 million from China's Sinovac
, 10 million of Russia's Sputnik V, 20 million doses from
Moderna and 17 million doses from AstraZeneca.
So far, the Philippines has adminstered slightly more than 8
million doses, of which about 6 million were first doses, making
slow progress towards the government's target to vaccinate up to
70 million people this year in a country of 110 million.
The Philippines earlier this month started a programme to
vaccinate 35 million people working outside their homes, while
continuing to inoculate priority sectors such as healthcare
workers and the elderly.
Vaccine supply around the capital Manila remains limited,
while COVID-19 cases in several provinces have surged,
complicating efforts to ramp up the immunisation drive in a
country with some of Asia's largest numbers of infections and
The Philippines also expects 44 million doses from the
international COVAX vaccine sharing facility. Orders of 16
million doses of vaccines developed by Novavax and
Johnson & Johnson were still under negotiation, Galvez
The Philippines will allow the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be
given to children aged 12 to 15, possibly starting later this
year, he said.
To help boost the government's COVID-19 response, a team of
medical experts from the Israel Ministry of Health has arrived
in Manila. Israel has been a world leader in rolling out
vaccines, having successfully reduced its active COVID-19 cases
and gradually reopened its economy. Most of its population has
received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Galvez said the health experts will share strategies,
including how to address vaccine hesitancy.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by William Mallard and