Top COVAX donors US, EU welcome arrival of AstraZeneca jabs in Philippines

Workers carefully unload the crates containing the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca at the Bulwagang Kalayaan in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on March 4, 2021.
Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — Major contributors to the World Health Organization co-led COVAX facility welcomed the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines in the Philippines.

After delays, 487,200 doses of the vaccine produced by the Swedish British drugmaker arrived in the country on Thursday night.

Both the United States and the European Union welcomed this latest development.

The US Embassy in Manila said it has initially donated P97.2 billion ($2 billion) to COVAX "to ensure the Philippines and other countries receive COVID-19 vaccines.

“The United States is proud to be the largest contributor to COVAX, and we welcome the successful arrival of the first tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines in the Philippines. As we fight the pandemic together, the United States will continue to support the Philippines’ vaccination and COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” US Chargé d’Affaires John Law said in a statement released Friday.

In February, the US pledged to donate a total of P194.4 billion ($4 billion) to the COVAX facility to help the world's most vulnerable and at-risk populations in getting COVID-19 vaccines.

Team Europe, consisting of the EU and its member states with the European Investment Bank, meanwhile said it has to-date provided P130 billion (€2.2 billion) to COVAX.

No one is safe until everyone is safe. His Excellency Luc Véron, Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines,...

Posted by European Union in the Philippines on Thursday, 4 March 2021

EU Ambassador Luc Véron highlighted that the Philippines will receive vaccines for 22 million Filipinos under the COVAX facility.

"The EU has both a responsibility and interest to make vaccines available to all. The European Union has maintained its goal to work in solidarity for vaccine cooperation and multilateralism — none is safe until everyone is safe," Véron said Thursday.

According to one of the officials leading the country's pandemic response team, the government may start distributing the AstraZeneca jabs on Friday or Saturday.

“Maybe the distribution of AstraZeneca vaccine to different hospitals will begin either later today or tomorrow,” Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said in an interview on Teleradyo. — Patricia Lourdes Viray with report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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