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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Over 3.5 million vaccine doses arrive in a span of two days

Millions of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines arrive in two days

MANILA – Over two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the Philippines from the COVAX Facility, an international partnership formed to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

The shipment according to a joint statement from the Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is in addition to half a million doses delivered last March and part of the 4.5 million total doses earmarked for the Philippines from COVAX.

“Now that these two million vaccine doses arrived, we urge our compatriots to get their second dose of AstraZeneca vaccines. If you are already in the priority group but have not yet registered with your local government unit, please contact your LGU or your barangay to get vaccinated. It is our additional armament against the severe form of COVID-19 and will help decrease hospitalizations,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines, said each shipment of vaccines from the COVAX Facility brings the country closer to ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 worldwide and “Health for All in the Philippines.”

“However, vaccines do not replace the important prevention measures we practice now – wearing face masks, avoiding crowded places and settings, frequent handwashing, and remaining physically distant from others,” Dr. Abeyasinghe added.

About 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines delivered last March have been provided local government units. As of May 2,2021, out of the 525,600 doses, 525,337 have been administered to health workers, the elderly, and persons with underlying health conditions. This new shipment of vaccines will provide second doses to those who have already been given the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as other target populations.

The DOH, WHO and UNICEF called on everyone whether those vaccinated or not to adhere to public health measures such as physical distancing, wearing masks, hand and respiratory hygiene, and ensuring good ventilation by opening windows and doors where possible.

Aside from the vaccines, WHO and UNICEF are helping the Philippines develop guidelines and policies, managing cold chain and logistics, and building capacity for surveillance, contact tracing, and community engagement at national and sub-national levels.

“Vaccines will be an important tool in the effort to contain COVID-19. As they become available, we will be able to reduce the burden on our health system, prevent deaths, severe infections, and hospitalizations. Given that children that children have been affected by the pandemic with prolonged lockdowns and school closures, the sooner the pandemic will be brought under control, the sooner we can build a better, safer, healthier future for children and for us all,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative.

COVAX Facility has seen an unprecedented mobilization of funding from governments, the private sector, philanthropic and multilateral partners including Team Europe (European Commission and the EU Member States), the United States, UK, Japan, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

The vaccines from the COVAX Facility arrived at about 1:00 P.M. and was ferried by Singapore Airlines.

Yesterday morning, the Philippines received an additional 1.5 million doses of Sinovac vaccines brought by Cebu Pacific flight at about 8:00 A.M.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez and Health Secretary Duque witnessed the arrival of the vaccines which is part of the 25 million doses bought by the Philippines. The Sinovac inventory has reached five million, where four million were bought and a million donated by China.

The Philippines received a total of 3.5 million doses in two days.(Melo M. Acuña)

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III being interviewed at NAIA Terminal II Friday morning, Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez and other dignitaries welcoming the over two million doses of AstraZeneca (center) and WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe addressing the officials at the welcome rites for the vaccines this morning at NAIA Complex. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Ted Herbosa/IATF Consultant)

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