Over 480,000 AstraZeneca vaccines arrive in PH, expands inoculation arsenal
By Phoebe de Leon
The Philippines now begins to catch up with its Southeast Asian neighbors’ inoculation campaigns with its first set of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac and AstraZeneca being readied for rollout across the country.
Over 480,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have finally arrived in the country on the evening of March 4 despite a shipment delay, supplementing the 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccines donated by the Beijing government last Feb.28.
This is the first of several vaccine deliveries to the Philippines that are expected in the COVAX Facility, a global initiative for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines led by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
“These vaccines coming through COVAX will help protect up to 20% of the population in the country during this year, including healthcare workers, other frontline workers and the elderly — groups who are most at risk,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines said in a release. “We all welcome the addition of vaccines to the available tools in the country which, when used to scale, will contribute to gradual return of day-to-day activities and economic revival in the country.”
Abeyasinghe said she believes that delivering of the COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines is a “powerful step” in the country’s return to normalcy.
Earlier this month, the National Immunization Technical Group (NITAG) for COVID-19 vaccines met to discuss possible guidelines for the usage of the AstraZeneca vaccines. The guidelines are expected to follow the Food and Drug Administration’s advice against administering the CoronaVac vaccines to citizens aged over 59 and to healthcare workers with direct exposure to the coronavirus.
The Philippines’ current stockpile of COVID-19 vaccines is only enough to inoculate at most 32% of the country’s 1.7 million healthcare workers, noted a report from Rappler. Fortunately, more shipments of vaccines can be expected in the following months.
Testing czar Vince Dizon also confirmed with DZMM Teleradyo via ABS-CBN that upon the President’s orders, they will not wait for the depletion of the country’s CoronaVac doses. The AstraZeneca vaccines will also be rolled out to hospitals to give healthcare workers another option if they have reservations with the CoronaVac.
As of publication, at least 9,077 individuals have already received vaccinations against the coronavirus and the country is slowly inching towards the government’s aim of inoculating 70 million citizens to achieve herd immunity. /DC
This March, The Frontliner Today wants to hear from aspiring medical professionals and the nation’s future frontliners: How do you feel about facing the professional world in the middle of a pandemic?
We also want to hear from Filipinos who have been stuck at home for a year due to quarantine: How has this past year treated you?
Tell us in no more than 800 words and send them to email@example.com with the subject line “QUARANTINE REFLECTION”.