(Photo from Glen Ramos, DOH Region IV-A)

The country’s vaccine czar on Thursday said barring setbacks, the country’s mass Covid-19 vaccination program would commence by May 2021.

National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., who was recently appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to handle the logistics of vaccine procurement, said about 24 million vaccines were eyed for the first batch of vaccination.

These would be procured in advance, while the vaccines are still undergoing clinical trials, to ensure early vaccine access in the country.

“If everything will go well, ang mangyayari po earliest is May,” Galvez told ANC’s Headstart.

Galvez said the country’s vaccine roadmap spans three to five years.

“Ang vaccine roadmap po natin is 3 to 5 years. Posible din that you will look at the demand and supply ng vaccine. Before end of 2020, ang presentation sa atin ng World Bank, more or less, 1.4 billion lang ang mapo-produce ng vaccines,” he said.

Some countries, Galvez revealed, had sought to procure vaccines twice as many as their total population.

“Sa ngayon, so far, ang demand ng big countries ay more than that. Talagang magkakahirapan tayo sa demand and supply kaya we’re appealing to the WHO (World Health Organization) na bigyan ng equitable access ang poor countries like us,” he added.

The country has 389,725 Covid-19 cases as of Nov. 5. John Ezekiel J. Hirro