MANILA - Australia on Wednesday expressed support for the Philippines' vaccine rollout against COVID-19, as it is expected to launch this month.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said in a tweet his country will support “to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are distributed efficiently.”
He discussed with vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and deputy chief implementer of the government's response against COVID-19 Secretary Vince Dizon updates on the Philippines' vaccine rollout plan and how Australia could support the country through the COVAX Facility, an initiative that seeks to ensure equitable access to the drug.
Robinson assured the Filipino officials, “in the spirit of mateship and bayanihan, the Embassy will do all we can to assist.”
Australia redirected its 2020 development assistance programs to reinforce the Philippine response to the pandemic.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced in October that Australia has committed $500 million to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and to promote health security in the Indo-Pacific, including in the Philippines.
This includes a AUD$21-million contribution to the new ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases, which will help combat COVID-19 and prepare the region for future pandemics.
Malacañang earlier said the Philippines is ready to launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive next week, months after the country awaited its supply of doses.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the country's first COVID-19 vaccine batch from the COVAX Facility will arrive in "mid-February."
The Department of Health, meanwhile, said Wednesday there is still no confirmed date yet for the arrival of the vaccines and the rollout of the inoculation program.
As of posting, the Philippines has registered 541,560 COVID-19 cases, 11,401 of which led to fatalities while 499,971 others recovered. Of the total number of infections, 30,188 are still active.