The United Kingdom (UK) donated 415,040 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines on Monday, August 2, amid a surge of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases that has forced the national government to re-impose stricter lockdown in major cities.
An Emirates Airlines plane carried the vaccines and arrived at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City around 4:25 p.m. via flight EK-332.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, expressed his “deepest gratitude” to the UK government “for this gesture of kindness and compassion.”
“This generous donation of vaccine doses to the Philippines will boost the national government’s capacity to provide the country’s most vulnerable sectors with an added layer of protection,” said Galvez, who witnessed the arrival ceremony with British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce.
The vaccine donations were a fulfillment of the UK government’s pledge to deliver around nine million doses of free vaccines in low-income countries around the world.
The UK government will directly give four million doses to countries, including the Philippines, as part of “bilateral donations” while an additional five million doses are alloted to the COVAX facility, a global initiative that aims to provide nations with an equitable access to the life-saving jabs.
By June 2022, the UK aims to distibute another 100 million doses worldwide.
With the delivery, the total vaccine supply increased to 34,275,740 doses, of which 7,273,940 doses are AstraZeneca.
Other brands include 19.5 million doses of Sinovac; 3.41 million Pfizer; 3.24 million Johnson & Johnson; 350,000 Sputnik V; and 500,400 Moderna.
A total of 20,863,544 doses were administered by the national government as of August 1, exactly five months since it started the free inoculation program on March 1.
Of these, 11,747,581 individuals were vaccinated with one dose while 9,115,963 others were deemed fully vaccinated.
Unlike before, the arrival of the vaccines was only covered by the government-run Philippine Television (PTV) network as stricter security measures were implemented by the NTF due to the rapid spread of new infections due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
In Cebu City, a photo of qeueing private cars with attached oxygen tanks outside a hospital went viral on social media. These vehicles were apparently used as temporary isolation hubs as medical facilities start running out of spaces to accommodate new patients.
To curb the surge, the national government will re-impose enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), tge strictest form of pandemic restriction, in the National Capital Region from August 6 to 20.
Relatedly, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 8,167 new cases on Monday, which brought the national tally to 1,605,762 cases.