MANILA – The Philippines has received a total of 2,279,160 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Thursday, the biggest shipment of the American-made jabs through the COVAX Facility.
Vaccine Czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., said as soon as the inspection has been completed and the DHL logistics gives a go-signal for distribution, the government will immediately deploy the vaccines to areas with appropriate cold storage facilities.
Around 1.9 million doses were transported to Manila, while 210,600 each were allocated to Cebu and Davao region.
In Luzon, the latest donation will mostly go to Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Batangas, Baguio City, and other areas with “third-party solutions” for the jabs’ storage requirement.
“So we advise local government units to acquire third-party providers so that all the warehouses are equipped with the ultra-low cold chain solution. We limit only those areas where the electricity is stable. Pfizer is very sensitive (it must be stored) at -80 degrees, so we will only deploy it on areas that we have a stable cold chain solution,” Galvez told reporters in an interview.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, assured that the government will strictly follow the COVAX mandate to prioritize medical front-liners, seniors, those with co-morbidities, and the indigent population.
“Part of the COVAX policy in the allocation is A1, A2, A3, and A5, the indigent sector. We will follow this prioritization framework,” he said.
‘On the correct path’
For the World Health Organization (WHO), the latest COVAX donation already serves as a “recognition” that the country is following the policy.
“The global supply is a huge challenge, so this is a recognition that the Philippines is following the prioritization and trying to reduce the effect of the pandemic using the vaccines as an additional tool. We salute the Philippines for this achievement,” said WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, said.
He added that the country is “on the correct path” as he noted that some 6.3 million people have already received their first dose, while 1.7 million have completed their second shots.
“On behalf of the WHO here, the UNICEF, and the UN team, we are very happy with the progress that we’re seeing on the ground the acceleration of vaccination. We remain committed to facilitating the delivery of COVAX vaccines,” he said.
The government officials were joined by German Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel and US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where the plane carrying the COVAX vaccines landed on Thursday night.
Speaking to the media, Law noted that Manila is among the recipient countries of Washington’s vaccine donation through COVAX Facility.
“The exact allocation is not yet determined but we do know that the Philippines is going to be included in that initial tranche. Of the 80 million vaccines, about 75 percent will be distributed to COVAX,” he said. (PNA)