The delivery of the first batch of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines secured by the national government from the Covax facility has finally been completed with the arrival of 38,200 more doses from British-Swede drugmaker AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals on Sunday night in Pasay City.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, represented President Duterte as he spearheaded the arrival ceremony and unloading of the AstraZeneca vaccines from a KLM Asia commercial plane.
The plane reportedly came from Amsterdam, The Netherlands and landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 around 7 p.m.
The shipment was part of the original 525,600 doses committed by the Covax facility to the government. The initial shipment — composed of 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines — was delivered last March 4.
“With the arrival of the Astrazeneca vaccines in the country — all 525,600 doses — there is no doubt that the WHO-led COVAX is committed to carry out its crucial role of ensuring that less-developed nations have equitable access to life-saving vaccines,” Galvez said.
“Truly, the facility has become a beacon of hope among people across the globe who want greater protection against the deadly virus and dream of reclaiming the livelihoods they have lost to the pandemic,” he added.
With the arrival of the AstraZeneca jabs, the total number of available vaccine doses in the country rose to 1,125,600. On February 28, the government received 600,000 vaccine doses from Sinovac Biotech that were donated by the Chinese government.
At present, Galvez said a total of 55,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines and 317,350 doses of Sinovac vaccines were already deployed to around 100 hospitals nationwide since the country’s vaccination program kicked off last March 1.
Next week, around 240,720 vaccine doses will be transported to various hospitals in regions where there is an observed spike of COVID-19 cases. It includes the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Visayas (Region 7), Calabarzon (Region 4A), Davao (Region 11), and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
“We would like to call on all Filipinos to register and get immunized as soon as the vaccines are available in your area. Over the past few days, there has been a spike in the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country which medical experts attribute due to the new coronavirus variants that have emerged,” Galvez said.
“As we have emphasized time and again, we must not let our guard down. Even if the vaccines have already arrived, we must still continue to observe minimum health standards — the wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene,” he added.
Meanwhile, the vaccine czar thanked the World Health Organization (WHO), the GAVI vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the UNICEF for completing the delivery of the first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines secured by the country from the Covax facility as the government accelerates the implementation of its national vaccination program.
He also thanked the European Union (EU), specifically the governments of Germany, Norway, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Greece, and Australia for their donations to the Covax facility. Covax facility is a WHO-led global alliance that aims to provide countries with an equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.