The country received more than 3.3 million doses of Pfizer and Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines on Friday, October 1, as the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the government to continue prioritizing the vaccination of the elderly and persons with co-morbidities.
Flight EK332 of Emirates Airline brought 883,350 doses of United States-made Pfizer to Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) around 4:15 p.m. These were donated to the country via the global vaccine sharing initiative, COVAX facility.
“We would like to thank our partners, our allied nations for the donations that you have given to us. We would also like to thank the American people for your generosity. Thank you for helping us in this time of need,” said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. in an interview at the airport.
Meanwhile, 2.5 million doses of government-procured Sinovac vaccine landed on NAIA Terminal 2 around 5:55 p.m. via Philippine Air Lines (PAL) flight PR 359. The vaccines were procured by the government from China.
The deliveries were crucial to ensure a steady supply of vaccines ahead of the planned pilot implementation of the inoculation of adolescents aged 12 to 17 on October 15 in Metro Manila. This were approved with top officials considering the enforement of face-to-face classes.
However, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, called on the government to use the donated Pfizer jabs for the vaccination of the elderly people and individuals with co-morbidities. The said sectors are the second and third in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination priority list.
“The pilot implementation is welcome but we also need to bear in mind that although the case numbers are declining, there are still a big vulnerable population of elderly and co-morbids that need to be protected,” Abeyasinghe told reporters.
He said the WHO understands that the government needs to bring back the economic activity but noted that the “optimum use of the vaccines will be to increase the coverage of the priority groups.”
He said that as long as the country has a considerable number of elderly and co-morbid population that are not fully protected, the government would “always run the risk of a surge that will necessitate the shutdown of the economy.”
“That’s why we say even though the situation is gradually improving, we need to coninue to prioitize the elderly and comorbid population. We need to provide access of vaccines to vulnerable people, meaning A5 groups,” he said.
For her part, US Charge d’Affaires Heather Variava was elated to know that the Philippines will start vaccinating its adolescent population, as the United States have done it as early as May.
“I’m also pleased to hear that pretty soon, the Philippines will start vaccinating young people, adolescents. We’ve been vaccinating adolescents in the United States since about May and it’s been very successful and very safe, and I think it further the steps along the way of getting all the Philippines fully vaccinated and protected against the disease,” she said.
Galvez said the deliveries of the bulk of supply will be allocated to Calabarzon (Region 4-A), Central Luzon (Region 3), Central Visayas (Region 7), and Davao (Region 11).
The country’s total vaccine supply increased to 74,707,940 doses after the arrival of Pfizer and Sinovac jabs.
Meanwhile, there were 45,601,096 doses that were administered nationwide as of Thursday. A total of 24,242,420 million Filipinos have received their first dose while 21,358,676 others have been fully vaccinated.