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PH vaccine rollout starts


BY MARTIN A. SADONGDONG


The country has officially kicked off its national vaccination program with the arrival of more than one million doses of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) this week.

AFP photo

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, made the remark as top government officials led by President Duterte witnessed the delivery of 600,000 CoronaVac vaccines from Chinese firm, Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Sunday afternoon at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City — the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to be delivered to the country.

Around 525,600 vaccine doses from British-Swedish pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, will also arrive in the country this Monday.

“With the arrival of vaccines from Sinovac and AstraZeneca on Sunday and Monday, respectively, the country’s vaccine rollout formally starts,” Galvez said.

The Sinovac vaccines were donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines. The Chinese Embassy informed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last February 13 that 500,000 doses will go to the national government while 100,000 doses will be allotted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

AFP photo

Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca jabs came from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led Covax facility, a global initiative for the equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines where the Philippines is a part of.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Galvez, the initial doses of vaccines will be administered at select major hospitals including the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila.

“Ito po ay isang pagpapatunay na ang lahat ng mga bakuna na ating ituturok sa ating mga kababayan ay ligtas at epektibo,” Galvez said.

“Kaya’t hinihikayat po namin ang ating mga kababayang Pilipino na magparehistro na sa kanilang mga barangay upang kayo ay makapagpabakuna na,” he added.


CABINET MEMBERS TO GET SINOVAC JABS

AFP photo

Galvez, himself, will reportedly be vaccinated with Sinovac at the PGH on Monday, according to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go although the vaccine czar has yet to issue a direct confirmation as of this writing.

Other Cabinet secretaries including Health Secretary Francisco Duque and NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon will also be reportedly vaccinated with Sinovac.

According to Go, Duque will be inoculated at the Philippine Lung Center while Dizon at the Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital.

Galvez said that the national government is continuously negotiating with multiple vaccine makers to inoculate 70 million Filipinos to achieve a “herd immunity,” or an indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection.

The first achieved negotiations could be traced back in November 2020 when the national government signed a tripartite agreement with AstraZeneca and the private sector for the delivery of 2.6 million vaccine doses.

Since then, the Galvez-led NTF has already secured 148 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from different manufacturers and sources. (Martin A. Sadongdong)

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Written by Tempo Desk

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