A FILIPINO American group is urging the U.S. government to expedite the release of three million doses of the Moderna vaccine purchased by the Philippines.
The Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), a group of young Fil-Am professionals, on Thursday, April 22, launched the #ModernaVax2PH campaign, urging the community to join in adding pressure on U.S. officials to begin shipments of the vaccine in May.
The plea comes as the Philippines continues to grapple with a surge in coronavirus cases, resulting in overwhelmed hospitals and supplies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Philippines especially hard, and as of this moment, hospitals there are at capacity and there is a dire need for therapeutics, ventilators, preventive education, PPE, disinfection protocols, and of course, vaccines,” said the group in a statement.
The Philippines has ordered 20 million Moderna doses, but the initial shipment is not planned until June or July.
FYLPRO stressed that the current COVID-19 situation in the Philippines “highlights the importance of accelerating access to the doses as soon as possible.”
“Of the 20 million Moderna vaccine doses that have been ordered and paid for by the Philippines, FYLPRO is asking for at least 3 million to be expedited from the proposed timeline of June-July to May,” the group said.
“We appeal for humanitarian assistance for the longest COVID-19 emergency and enhanced lockdown that is now occurring in the Philippines,” it stressed.
The group further pointed out that almost 5 million Filipino Americans in the U.S. have close ties to their relatives in the Philippines, urging U.S. President Joe Biden to use his executive authority to expedite the release of this initial batch of fully paid vaccines.
“So many personal tragedies can be averted if we act sooner rather than later,” said FYLPRO.
To date, there are 979,740 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, of which 102,799 are active infections. The country currently ranks second in Southeast Asia for the highest number of infections.
“I am cautiously optimistic that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with COVID-19 in the United States. In contrast, the Philippines is expected to be one of the last to recover from the pandemic in Southeast Asia; suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the region and its economy experiencing its worst drop since the end of World War II,” said FYLPRO president Louella Cabalona.
As of April 20, 1.56 million doses have been administered, according to the Philippine Department of Health. Of that number, 209,456 Filipinos are considered fully vaccinated.
FYLPRO has an online toolkit for the #ModernaVax2PH campaign to encourage community members to support by writing letters to Biden, U.S. Agency for International Development Acting Administrator Gloria Steele, State Department Secretary Antony Blinken, and their representatives and senators.
Previously, several Fil-Am health care groups — including U.S. Medicare in the Philippines, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and the Philippine Nurses Association of America — sent a letter to the Biden administration to fast track the release of the doses.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said efforts are in place to have the vaccines delivered at an earlier date.
“I am very pleased to let you know that our Filipino American association and Filipino Americans here in the United States, regardless of political color or political beliefs, are now banding together in trying to write to their congressmen and senators in the local communities to be able to [urge] the [U.S.] government to give us this help, this assistance in getting these vaccines earlier because of the critical situation that we have in the Philippines,” he said an interview with INQUIRER.net’s INQside Look on April 6.
“We’re working with them and hopefully we will get some good results in the next couple of days or maybe a week from now,” he added.
Likewise, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently called for the expedited vaccine delivery.
During a telephone conference his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III on April 11, sought the assistance of Austin to expedite the delivery of the Moderna vaccines that the Philippines ordered.
In response, Austin said that “he would look into the issue and bring it to the attention of the office concerned.”