PH raises vaccine ‘inequalities’ at ADB meet

Published May 10, 2021, 3:16 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III called for the just and equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines to ensure the access of lower-income and developing countries to life-saving medical interventions amid the prolonged pandemic.

At the recent 54th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Dominguez said the COVID-19 pandemic “did not only widen the inequalities within societies but amplified the disparities between countries” as shown by the uneven allocation of the vaccines.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (DOF photo)

Dominguez noted that developed economies were not only able to provide higher levels of stimulus measures, but also able to undertake their mass inoculations at a faster pace than the developing countries because of their vast financial resources. 

For this reason, he said the Philippines supported the strong call for developed countries, multilateral institutions, and global organizations to join forces in ensuring the accessibility of these life-saving doses to lower-income economies.

 “It is only through the just and equitable distribution of vaccines can the world achieve a safer recovery from this pandemic,” Dominguez said.

The Duterte administration is targeting to inoculate 70 million adult Filipinos by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity. However, initial phase of its vaccine rollout had moved too slowly due to limited global supply.

The Philippines, which started its vaccination in March, has ranked third among Southeast Asian countries in terms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) doses administered.

At present, the country has a total supply of 7.57 million vaccine doses composed of Coronavac from Sinovac Biotech of China, AstraZeneca, and Sputnik V from Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia. 

Of that number, the World Health Organization (WHO)-led Covax facility has so far delivered 2.55 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the shipments that arrived on March 4, March 7, and May 8.

More than two million doses, meanwhile, have been administered in the conuntry, way below the government’s target to achieve herd immunity.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres earlier expressed dismay with the “uneven and unfair” distribution of coronavirus vaccines, saying only 10 countries administered 75 percent of all vaccinations.

President Duterte had admitted that the country was facing a shortage of vaccine supply due to the world’s scarce stocks. 

The chief executive was concerned that rich nations have cornered most of the vaccine supplies while poor nations like the Philippines are left to scramble for remaining stocks.