House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez is asking the United States to donate to the Philippines its surplus of COVID-19 vaccines.
Rodriguez issued the appeal on Thursday, April 22, amid the country’s dwindling vaccine supply and following reports that the US has an adequate supply of coronavirus shots for its people.
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci was quoted as telling BBC Radio that America might no longer need the millions of doses it has agreed to buy from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca.
“The US can donate those doses to us, including its excess from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson,” Rodriguez said in a statement, noting that the US has already administered over 200 million doses to its estimated 330-million population.
“Our access to western-made vaccines will lessen our country’s dependence on China’s CoronaVac and give Filipinos vaccination options,” he added.
The Cagayan de Oro representative said that Filipinos currently have no choice “but to take the China-made shots because it is the only one available.”
“Our remaining supply consists of perhaps only a few thousand doses of CoronaVac, while AstraZeneca has run out, forcing many vaccination centers to pause immunization. We badly need additional supply,” he lamented.
Rodriguez noted that the US’s donation of vaccines to the Philippines could further strengthen relations between the two countries.
“It would likewise be a counterpart gesture to the Chinese donation of one million doses of CoronaVac. They could send us one million doses of AstraZeneca, which the government could give to the more than half a million healthcare workers and seniors citizens who have received their first shot of the British-Swedish vaccine that was donated by the World Health Organization (WHO),” he added.
Philippine vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a House hearing on Wednesday, April 21, that the government is now in talks with the US to secure at least three million Astrazeneca vaccine doses.
He said the US has about 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines on hand, although it has yet to approve the shots for emergency use in the country.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the US was already looking into the Philippines request for vaccine access, saying the country may “perhaps donate it even to us”.
Galvez said they have also reached out to the United Kingdom to access 3 million more doses of vaccines from the same firm.
Last March, an initial 526,000 AstraZeneca vaccines were delivered to the Philippines from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX vaccine sharing facility.
Another batch of 979,200 shots were expected to arrive in late March or early April, but Galvez said this could be delayed due to global supply constraints.