AstraZeneca vaccines via COVAX a 'lifeline' for Filipinos, UN official says

Published May 8, 2021, 8:20 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The latest batch of coronavirus vaccines delivered to the Philippines through the COVAX facility represented a “lifeline” to Filipinos seeking relief from the pandemic, according to a United Nations (UN) official.

The latest batch of AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrived in the Philippines through the COVAX facility on May 8, 2021 (Photo: National Task Force against COVID-19)

At least 2,030,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines were delivered to the country on Saturday, May 8, under the global equitable vaccine access program. This was the latest tranche of World Health Organization-led COVAX vaccine donation since the 525,600 doses were sent last March.

“These 2 million doses represent a lifeline for so many Filipinos who have been waiting for relief from the suffering and the fear that this virus has brought upon all of us,” UN in the Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez said in a statement.

“Looking at these vials, I see hope and relief for Filipinos who need it most,” said Gonzalez, who was among the officials present to welcome the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines at the Manila airport.

The fresh COVAX vaccine delivery has pushed the country’s total number of supply to more than 7.5 million. The country’s vaccine stock so far included doses donated by China and COVAX as well as shots procured by the government. The vaccines are mostly China’s Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V.

Around 1.8 million people have been vaccinated since the government started the inoculation drive last March. The government aims to vaccinate 70 million adult Filipinos to achieve herd immunity this year.

The Philippines is expected to receive 44 million vaccine doses through the COVAX facility, a global scheme promoting equal distribution of the life-saving drugs. The next batch of COVAX donations will be delivered to the country in the coming weeks, according to the United States Embassy in Manila.

Gonzalez said COVAX was “a demonstration of multilateralism in action and its success depends on global collaboration – from the scientists and manufacturers over public health officials, and policy and decision makers, to the medical practitioners and the communities who will eventually benefit from the vaccines.”

“It is the result of this global collaboration we see here today,” he added.

He noted the UN agencies in the country have also been mobilized to provide support to ensure a successful vaccination, from extending aid on logistics and cold chain storage to training health workers.