The Philippine government received over two million more doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX Facility on Friday, raising the World Health Organization (WHO)-led initiative’s donations to Manila to over seven million vials.
The latest shipment came a day after Tokyo donated 1.12 million doses of Japan-manufactured AstraZeneca shots, both a big boost to the country’s supply and its target to inoculate 70 percent of its population by end of 2021.
An Emirates flight from Dubai carrying the 2.028 million shots landed past 4 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and was welcomed by National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as well as representatives from the WHO, UNICEF, and USAID.
The vaccine will be administered to those who have not received their second shots and those belonging to the A1 to A3 priority groups, which include front-liners, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities.
“This is a vital important supply right now as we are looking how we can increase the protection and coverage among the A2 and A3 groups, so we are urging the government to use these vaccines to ensure that A2 and A3 groups have received their full vaccination,” WHO Representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a media interview.
Starting next week, Abeyasinghe said the COVAX Facility is also delivering 3.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to the country.
Mariella Castillo of UNICEF Philippines added that the COVAX Facility remains committed to delivering at least 44 million doses to cover around 20 percent of the country’s population within the year.
Galvez said this latest delivery will be deployed soon, 1.5 million doses of which will be used for second doses while the remaining will be delivered to different priority areas.
“It will be dispersed to different areas nationwide and we will prioritize those with vulnerable A1, A2, and A3,” he said.
Meanwhile, he thanked the United States for its upcoming J&J vaccine donations, which he said will be given to rural areas in the Philippines.
On Friday, the country is set to receive another 132,200 Sputnik V shots as part of its 20 million doses order from Gamaleya, of which at least 50,000 are intended as second doses for those initially vaccinated.