The country received 8,247,200 doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Tuesday, Dec. 14, the biggest such delivery in a single-day since it started accepting supplies of the life-saving jabs in February of this year.
Most of the vaccines came from the donations of different European countries through the COVAX facility.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said about 16 million more doses will arrive this week, which is the highest weekly delivery in 10 months.
“We really thank the COVAX considering that almost all of the countries… of its members from the European Union and also from the United States have been donating vaccines. In behalf of the national government and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I would like to thank the international community, our international partners, and friends for giving us these much needed vaccines that we will be using for the second part of our national vaccination program,” he said.
The second round of the “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” National Vaccination Program kicked off on Wednesday with the government targeting to vaccinate around seven million individuals from Dec. 15 to 17.
In total, the country’s vaccine supply has increased to 166,851,720 doses.
A total of 42,008,263 individuals have already been fully vaccinated while 55,162,060 have received their first dose. There were also 853,500 individuals who received booster shots.
The government targets to fully vaccinate 54 million Filipinos by the end of 2021, and raise it to 77 million in the first quarter of 2022 to attain herd immunity.
France, Spain, Netherlands donations
First to arrive were the vaccine donations from France and Spain composed of 1,058,400 doses and 453,600 doses of Moderna respectively at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 around 4 p.m.
The vaccine donations from Netherlands followed after 10 minutes, composed of 2,956,800 doses of Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. These were part of the second batch of the 7.5 million free shots they committed to deliver to the Philippines.
The first batch of 1,526,400 doses were brought on Monday while the third batch was scheduled for delivery around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
French Ambassador to the Philippines Boccoz Michelle said the deliveries came at a “very critical moment” as the country was conducting a national vaccination day to protect more Filipinos from the threat of COVID-19.
“This is a very critical moment with the Philippines’ ongoing vaccination campaign which is being unfolded and it’s the right time for our vaccines, the Netherlands, Spain, and Europe – our team together – to support the Philippines and make sure that the vaccines are there for the new rollout of the campaign,” she said.
Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Moragas said the donations signified Spain’s “friendship and commitment with the well-being and health of the Filipino people.”
“This is, as far as I know, the only donation that Spain has brought to Asia, and that’s for the Philippines because of our special relationship and history ties. We’re very happy as we try to help fight the pandemic,” Moragas said.
Meanwhile, Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines Saskia de Lang said the single-dose vaccines will be sent to the remote areas, particularly in the island provinces and other geographically-isolated areas in Mindanao, to address the problem on vaccine deliveries.
“As you know in Janssen vaccine, you only need one jab so it makes it easier for the remote places,” she said.
Two hours later, China’s bilateral donation of two million doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac jab arrived at NAIA Terminal 2.
“I’m very happy that the additional donation of the Chinese government to the Philippines, two million Sinovac doses of vaccines, arrived as scheduled before the Christmas. We hope that it will contribute to a healthy, safe, and merry Christmas and also contribute to the national vaccination campaign and booster program,” said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.
Galvez said that the vaccines will be used for the first and second dosing, and booster vaccination during the Bayanihan, Bakunahan 2 program.
“I would like to announce that majority of our people are also interested of having the boosters for Sinovac considering that they are open to homologous vaccination,” he said.
Austria, Sweden’s assistance
Around 7:30 p.m., Austria and Sweden’s respective vaccine donations of 266,400 doses and 1,512,000 doses of J&J vaccine arrived at NAIA Terminal 3.
Austrian Ambassador to the Philippines Bita Rasoulian applauded the Philippines for its “very successful” vaccination program.
“It is important for Austria that every nation, every citizen, every person around the world has access to high quality vaccines. This is a global effort, it is a global phenomenon and it is important that we tackle all of this together,” she said.
“With this donation, which is one of the many donations we have done through the COVAX facility to the Philippines, we are doing solidarity with the Philippines and we wish of course the Philippines’ success in overcoming this pandemic right now and any surge that may come in the future such as in Europe,” she added.
The new Omicron variant has penetrated several European countries and caused a sudden surge in cases. In the Philippines, the Department of Health said it has yet to detect the first case of the Omicron variant.
Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Annika Thanborg stressed the importance of vaccine equity among nations so that the world can truly defeat the pandemic.
“Vaccine equity is key. No one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said.