The Philippines will take longer to reach its goal of fully vaccinating 70% of its population, which officials said will be achieved in February before the 2022 elections, instead of this year.

Half of the population will be fully inoculated by year-end, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night. Up to 160 million doses will be delivered within the year, Galvez said.

The Philippines is lagging peers in Southeast Asia in the vaccine rollout, with about 23% of the population fully vaccinated, compared with 63% in Malaysia. The slow progress is hampering the easing of mobility curbs, which is hurting the economic growth outlook for this year.

The Philippine government is in talks with up to 5 vaccine makers for 90 million doses with delivery expected to start in the first quarter of next year. A deal for 6 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine is expected to be signed this week, Galvez said. — Bloomberg

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