The first shipment of Moderna vaccines, comprised of 249,600 doses, was delivered in the country on Sunday night, June 27, providing an additional boost to the government’s immunization program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
A Singapore Airlines plane (flight number SQ918) fetched the Moderna vaccines from the United States and landed at Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City around 11 p.m.
The Moderna vaccines were composed of 150,000 doses procured by the national government and 99,600 doses purchased by the private sector led by billionaire businessman Enrique Razon Jr.’s International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI). In total, 20 million doses were procured by the government from Moderna, of which, 13 million will go to them and seven million will be allocated to the private sector.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. led top government officials in welcoming the American vaccines with Christian Martin Gonzalez, executive vice president of ICTSI; David Gamble Jr., economic counselor of US Embassy in the Philippines; Department of Health Usec. Carol Tanio; and representatives from Zuellig Pharma.
According to Galvez, the rollout of Moderna vaccines will take place in the National Capital Region (NCR) but a portion of it will be allocated in some areas in Visayas and Minadanao where there are surges of cases.
“Ang deployment nito, initially, kasi first time natin na nakahandle ng Moderna so we will study the deployment of these [vaccines]. Majority ng deployment dito muna sa NCR and later we will give it to other urban centers and areas (This is the first time that we handled Moderna so we will study the deployment of these [vaccines]. Majority of the deployment will initially be in NCR and later we will give it to other urban centers and areas),” he told reporters.
On the part of the private sector, Gonzalez said over 300 companies all over the country will get their pro rata (proportional) share of the Moderna vaccines through the ICTSI Foundation. The vaccines will be transported to the companies through the cold chain facility and logistics services of Zuellig Pharma.
“We’ll be able to distribute these as quickly as possible to all these companies,” Gonzalez assured.
Since the government already finished vaccinating 100 percent of 1.6 million healthcare workers, the inoculation of senior citizens (A2), persons with co-morbidities (A3), and economic frontliners (A4) will be prioritized in the rollout of Moderna which will take place “as soon as possible.”
“The priority of deployment of these vaccines is basically ang priority natin na A2 and A3 but nagcommit kami na karamihan dito will be given to OFWs and seafarers, and government frontliners natin (The priority of deployment of these vaccines is basically the A2 and A3 but we also committed to give it to our OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] and seafarers, and government frontliners),” Galvez said.
“Gusto ko rin ibalita na 100 percent na tayo sa healthcare workers in terms of ‘yung sa masterlisted. Nakuha na natin lahat ng 1,600,000 sa masterlist so we are now pursuing yung second dose nila (I would also like to announce that we have vaccinated 100 percent of our healthcare workers in terms of those who are in the masterlist. We already got the 1,600,000 workers in the masterlist so we are now pursuing their second dose),” he added.
The vaccines are intended for use of individuals 18 years old and above but Galvez said Moderna is already testing it for possible use on 12 to 15 years old.
However, the government is aware that there are concerns on the reported development of myocardial infarction or heart inflammation in some “very rare” instances among individuals vaccinated with Moderna in other countries.
Galvez noted that the global confidence on Moderna vaccine remains “very high” despite the minimal reports of adverse events. He assured that the benefits of using the vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 far outweighs the risks it brings.
“Ang Moderna globally ito ang second highest being used by many countries. Ang side effects very rare ang ano natin, very negligible ang side effects considering most of countries mas comfortable sila gamitin ang vaccines na nakita natin (Moderna is the second most used vaccine globally as it is being used by many countries. The side effects are very rare, very negligible considering that most countries are very comfortable to use it),” he said.