THE ARRIVAL of about 15,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine this week had been delayed due to logistical problems, according to the Presidential Palace.

The shipment had been canceled because there were no direct flights from Russia, presidential spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the country could not meet the vaccine’s cold storage requirements.

Sputnik V vaccines must be stored in a dark place with a temperature not exceeding -18 degrees Celsius, according to the country’s drug regulator. The vaccine is  91.6% effective against the coronavirus.

The government now expects to take delivery of the vaccines made by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology next month, Mr. Roque said.

The government is vaccinating health workers, seniors, and people with comorbidities.

The Philippines aims to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos this year, but as of April 27, only about  1.8 million doses have been given out. The Philippines has received about 3.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, Zuellig Pharma Corp. has partnered with Moderna, Inc. to bring its coronavirus vaccine to Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to a company official.

“Our collaboration with Moderna to supply the COVID-19 vaccine Moderna in Asia reaffirms Zuellig Pharma’s commitment to help fight the global pandemic,” Chief Executive Officer John Graham said in a statement..

The company, which provides commercial services to more than 350,000 medical facilities worldwide, is working closely with governments to help them plan for the security of their vaccine supply, he said.

“We are drawing upon our expertise, resources, and extensive distribution network to support governments and where allowed private healthcare institutions across the region in implementing end-to-end vaccination programs,” he said. 

Moderna has 24 development programs aimed at developing therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and auto-immune diseases.

Zuellig Pharma, through its commercialization division ZP Therapeutics, said it had applied for emergency  use of the Moderna vaccine in the Philippines.

The country’s pandemic task force earlier said the Philippines would take delivery of about 194,000 doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccines, which were already approved for emergency use in the United States, Canada, Israel, the European Union, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Qatar, Singapore and Taiwan. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza