MANILA – The United States, through the COVAX Facility, will deliver another two million doses of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine to the Philippines by next week, US Embassy in Manila Chargé d'Affaires Heather Variava said Thursday night.
"Yes, we will. In fact, we are really delighted that next week some more, about two million doses from the United States donated thru COVAX will be arriving. So, more is coming," she said in an interview shortly after the arrival of the 813,150 doses government procured Pfizer vaccine at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
These jabs were delivered via Air Hongkong Flight LD 456.
Out of a total of 1,014,390 doses delivered in the country, 100,620 doses arrived in Cebu at around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday while another 100,620 doses are set to be delivered to Davao on Friday.
Variava also said Pfizer is one of the safest and effective most vaccines in the US and it has already been used in the vaccination of 10 million children.
She said she is happy that more of the life-saving jabs are arriving in the Philippines.
"Pfizer is one, of course, of the safest and most effective vaccines we have. We are delighted that more is arriving in the Philippines especially because we're now vaccinating children ages 12 and above. Indeed, we have vaccinated more than 10 million children in the United States with the Pfizer vaccine. My son is one of them in fact. He is a teenager. So it is a very safe and effective vaccine for children," Variava said.
Meanwhile, National Task Force against Covid-19 and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez. Jr. lauded the efforts of the United States for ramping up the supplies of the vaccines to the country and thanked Variava for taking time to visit hospitals in Manila.
Galvez said the initial phase of the children's vaccination is a decisive decision for the government as it would give confidence to Filipinos that not only Covid-19 vaccines are safe but also vaccines for rubella, polio, and measles.
Vaccination for children in Metro Manila started in some selected hospitals last October 15.
"It would really give more confidence to our people not only for vaccinating the Covid-19 vaccine but all other vaccines like rubella, polio, and also measles. That is why we are very much decisive, very prudent in the execution of our vaccination. For now, we have more than 4,000 children have been vaccinated, and we have only reported very minor adverse effects, I think only four," Galvez added.
Galvez said the newly-arrived Pfizer vaccine and those coming in later will be distributed to different cities in the country.
"We will start already the rollout vaccination for children for additional 23 hospitals in NCR (Natonal Capital Region) so tomorrow (Friday) is our expansion and the next (October 29) will expand that to other LGUs (local government units) So we are very happy to report the vaccination for children is very very successful initial week," he said.
With improving vaccination rates in Metro Manila, Galvez expressed confidence that population protection will be attained by the middle or end of November.
"I'm so confident that soon we will be having some sort of normality in Metro Manila considering that Metro Manila has the highest vaccination rate, with more or less 92 percent first dose and more than 80 percent fully vaccinated. And with the vaccination of children coming up for Metro Manila, we (going to) scale up its protection, I believe before the end of November or middle of November, we could already achieve population protection," Galvez said.
With Covid-19 vaccine supplies no longer an issue, he said the President has instructed all LGUs and provincial officials to scale up or fast track their vaccination programs to make use of all available jabs.
"Right now supply is not anymore an issue. The President (Rodrigo R. Duterte) is a bit worried about the stockpiling of some vaccines (amounting to) 29 million. He instructed all the LGUs, governors, and mayors to fast-track their vaccinations. He said vaccinations should be 24/7 and it should be scaled up in a way we can meet our target the soonest possible time," Galvez said.
But besides this, the President is very happy now that the country's vaccine orders are now being delivered along with those being donated.
"He is very happy for the US for giving us more than 18 million vaccines because they promise another 2,098,000 vaccines will be coming in next week, and the President is very happy, the generosity of the US and the COVAX is now generating some spirit of compassion and generosity, that most of the other countries are doing some donations like Germany and also I believed Australia will follow suit," he added.
Galvez also said the Japanese government will donate another 1.9 million doses of vaccines.
Once these jabs arrive, these will increase Tokyo's total vaccine donation to Manila to three million.
The vaccine czar added that COVAX Facility is really gaining momentum in saving humanity from the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The COVAX Facility is really gaining some ground (in) saving humanity and putting some premium on the global commons, of suppressing or defeating the Covid-19 so that the whole global society will go back to normal," he said. (PNA)