As Philippines lags in COVID-19 vaccination, official cites one benefit

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2021 07:10 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2021 07:34 PM

A health worker prepares a Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine shot, in Tabatinga, state of Amazonas, Brazil Jan. 19, 2021. Adriano Machado, Reuters


MANILA — The Philippines is reaping one benefit while it trails other countries in vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19, an official leading the effort said on Tuesday.

Local authorities saw efficacy and safety of the vaccines while millions of its doses are administered abroad, said Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19. 

“Nakita natin na mga safe ang vaccine natin. At nakikita natin iyong mga adverse effect ay mga tinatawag na manageable,” said Galvez, who is also the country's vaccine czar. 

(We saw that our vaccines are safe. And we are seeing that the adverse effects are manageable.)

“Iyon po ang isa sa mga nakikita natin na dapat tingnan natin, na maganda rin na medyo tayo’y nahuli nang kaunti dahil, kasi, at least, nakikita po natin iyong mga reaksyon ng mga vaccine,” he said in a briefing.

(That is one thing we found out, that it's good we have slightly lagged because at least we saw the reactions to the vaccine.)

Meanwhile, Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of San Lazaro Hospital’s Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Department, told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo that the country does not need to "wait for the second generation vaccines" amid the emergence of new coronavirus variants.

"The first generation vaccines - we're talking about those from Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca - they are still effective against even with this new UK variant," Solante said.

"Ang importante, hopefully, we can get the vaccines the soonest possible time. Because what is critical here is, the soonest that we get the vaccine, then we have to rollout and prioritize those frontliners and the vulnerable," he said.

"More or less, the difference in terms of efficacy may not matter at this point because they said, even with this variant, this first generation vaccines are still effective."

"We should not wait for the second generation vaccine to come in, given the opportunity that we will have the first generation or the first batch of vaccine," he added.

The Philippines has detected 17 cases of the UK COVID-19 variant, which is among the country's 516,166 cumulative total of coronavirus infections, as of Tuesday.

Galvez in December said wealthy countries snapped up four-fifths of the global vaccine supply.

“Huwag po kayong, tayong magmadali dahil sa Southeast Asia, 2 pa lang po ang nagkakaroon ng mini rollout—iyong Singapore saka po Indonesia. Wala pa pong 50,000 to 100,000 ang kanilang naro-roll out,” he said. 

(Don't rush because in Southeast Asia, only 2 countries have a mini rollout—Singapore and Indonesia. They have only rolled out 50,000 to 100,000 doses.)

The Philippines hopes to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year, starting February.

The country's first vaccine doses will likely come from Pfizer, UK's AstraZeneca, or Chinese firm Sinovac, Galvez had said. 

The Philippines has secured 30 million shots from the Serum Institute of India, 25 million from Sinovac, 20 million from Moderna, 17 million from UK's AstraZeneca, and 40 million from the Covax Facility. 

Watch more in iWantTFC  Video courtesy of PT
Watch more in iWantTFC