PH to receive COVID-19 jabs from COVAX

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

THE Philippines is set to receive COVID-19 vaccines from the global COVAX facility within the first quarter of 2021, the country’s officials confirmed Wednesday, January 20.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr and Health Secretary Francisco Duque II made the announcement that the Philippines will be among the countries included in the COVAX distribution of vaccines for an early rollout.

“The Philippines today received the country’s confirmation of participation in the COVID-19 vaccine financing instrument, COVAX Facility – Advance Market Commitment (AMC),” they said in a joint statement.

“With the country’s participation in the COVAX Facility, the country is set to receive vaccines in the first quarter of this year,” the officials added.

Backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the vaccine alliance Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the COVAX facility is a global platform that aims to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries.

With the new development, the Philippines could receive between 30 and 40 million “free” COVID-19 vaccines.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 jabs — which were granted an emergency use authorization in the Philippines on January 14 —  are eyed to be the first vaccine batch to arrive in the country.

Preparations

As part of the preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine deployment, Duque and Galvez visited three cold storage facilities that can potentially be used in the first wave of the government’s vaccine rollout.

The inspection was carried out to ensure that the cold chain facilities will meet the storage requirement of vaccines prior to its distribution to identified vaccination sites.
The cold chain facilities visited were the First Pioneer Distribution Center of UNILAB located in Biñan City, Laguna, the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City, and the Zuellig Pharma Corporation in Parañaque City.

“All of these preparations that we are undertaking are aimed at ensuring that the country is ready to receive, store and mobilize the COVID-19 vaccines that will come from the COVAX Facility,” Duque said.

He added, “We extend our thanks to our partners for their continued support to improve our cold storage capacity. We cannot make this endeavor a success if the government and the private sector work in silos. Our response has always been a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, whole-of-system approach.”

The Philippines is aiming to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos in 2021, with up to 200,000 individuals receiving jabs every day.

So far, the country has secured vaccine deals with British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, China-based Sinovac, Indian-based Covovax, and U.S.-based Novavax.

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