MANILA: The Philippine government has signed a purchase deal for 40 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in its largest such agreement this year after huge demands from wealthy countries started to ease.
Carlito Galvez Jr., who oversees the government's vaccine purchases, said bulk shipments funded by loans from the Asian Development Bank and other lenders will start in August.
He asked towns and provinces to prepare to receive "very sensitive vaccines" like Pfizer.
The Philippine archipelago has sweltering tropical weather conditions, and many rural areas also lack warehouses, delivery aircraft and trucks equipped to keep the vaccines at sub-zero temperatures.
"We don't want any vaccine to be wasted because of spoilage and mishandling," Galvez said.
The Philippines has concluded deals to buy 113 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from five foreign pharmaceutical companies and expects to receive 44 million doses this year under the U.N.-backed COVAX program.
It has administered more than 8 million doses so far from existing stocks.
The Pfizer vaccine will considerably boost the country's immunization campaign "and will enable us to realise our goal of achieving herd immunity by year end," Galvez said.