WHO reaffirms support to PH COVID-19 vaccination program

Published March 4, 2021, 10:40 PM

by Analou de Vera

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reaffirmed its support to the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program to protect Filipinos against the viral illness.

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe

The Philippines received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility on Thursday night, March 4, with the arrival of 487,200 doses of vaccines developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

“(We) look forward to supporting the vaccination campaign throughout the country. Standing together in solidarity makes us stronger. Let us continue to work together in solidarity to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us,” said WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe in his speech during the ceremonial turnover of AstraZeneca vaccines at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

This initial batch of vaccines from the COVAX facility were donated by the following countries: Germany, Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, and Greece.

“Today’s arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines from COVAX Is a testament to the strength of collaboration, cooperation, and compassion. It is a testament to the power of working together towards a common goal in the spirit of partnership, equity, and solidarity,” said Abeyasinghe.

With the rollout of the vaccination program, the WHO official reminded the public not to be complacent and to still adhere to the minimum health standards.

“The arrival and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines does not mean we can abandon these proven prevention measures. Economic revival will still need to be carefully calibrated to prevent future surges of cases, to avoid unnecessary loss of lives, and to minimize the need to have lockdowns,” said Abeyasinghe.

In a statement on Thursday night, AstraZeneca said it is proud to be a partner to COVAX in “enabling communities around the world to access the vaccine as soon as possible.”

“We have been working closely with all key stakeholders to fulfill our commitment to provide broad and equitable access to an effective, well-tolerated, and simple-to-administer vaccine at no profit during the pandemic,” said AstraZeneca Country President Lotis Ramin.

“We will continue to work with the Philippine national and local governments, private donors, and COVAX to pave the way for return to normalcy and economic recovery for all Filipinos,” she added.

AstraZeneca said that its vaccine has an efficacy of 76 percent against symptomatic COVD-19 in the first 90 days after vaccination, with no significant waning of protection during this period.”

“Vaccine efficacy after the second dose was higher in those with a longer interval, reaching 81.3 percent in those with a dosing interval of 12 weeks or more,” it added.