MANILA, Philippines — Another batch of over two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the country yesterday through the COVAX Facility of the World Health Organization (WHO).
A total of 2,030,400 vaccine doses were carried by Singapore Airlines flight SQ910 from Amsterdam via Singapore which landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) past 1 p.m.
Government vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who was there to welcome the shipment, said 525,000 of these doses will be distributed to different hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Another 1.4 million doses will be distributed to highly urbanized areas in Zamboanga, Metro Davao, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions.
This is the second batch of AstraZeneca vaccines to arrive in the country through the COVAX Facility, in addition to the 525,000 doses that came in March.
Bureau of Customs (BOC)-NAIA district collector Mimel Talusan said that including yesterday’s shipment, the agency’s One Stop Shop (OSS) has already processed and released more than seven million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
To date, the country has received a total of 7,571,000 of anti-COVID vaccines, which include those procured by the government, as well as donations from the Chinese government and the COVAX Facility.
These include the 2,556,000 AstraZeneca doses, five million Sinovac jabs and 15,000 Gamaleya shots.
Also present at NAIA was Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, who said that about three percent or 2.2 million of the targeted 70 million citizens for vaccination have been inoculated.
Duque said 1.8 million of them were given their first dose and urged them not to miss their second dose to get full protection against COVID-19.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said that a single dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, called ChAdOx1-S [recombinant], has an efficacy rate of 76 percent against symptomatic COVD-19 in the first 90 days after vaccination, “with no significant waning of protection during this period.”
“Vaccine efficacy after the second dose was higher in those with a longer interval, reaching 81.3 percent in those with a dosing interval of 12 weeks or more,” it added.
AstraZeneca country president Lotis Ramin said their partnership with COVAX “is part of our commitment to ensuring broad and equitable access to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at no profit during the pandemic.”
Vaccines through the COVAX Facility are donations from different international organizations and handled by the WHO under an equitable distribution framework for 190 countries in the world.
“We are proud to be partnering with governments and COVAX partners to deliver the vaccine to countries like the Philippines at an unprecedented scale,” Ramin said.
The United States has so far donated $2 billion to COVAX.
Its embassy in Manila said the US government is by far the largest contributor to the global initiative, funding one in five vaccinations provided by the facility to the Philippines.
The US embassy also said an additional COVAX allocation of 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca is expected in the coming weeks. The facility will also provide the country with 2.3 million doses of vaccines developed by Pfizer.
Duque confirmed that some 193,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in the country tomorrow.
He called on citizens to enlist for vaccination. “If you are already in the priority group but have not yet registered with your local government, please contact your LGU or barangay to get vaccinated,” he said.
Other officials who witnessed yesterday’s arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines at NAIA were COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon, WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabundra Abeyasinghe, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law, UNICEF Representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov and Undersecretary Robert Borje of the Office of the President. – Janvic Mateo, Jose Rodel Clapano