Duterte OKs using all AstraZeneca doses on hand as first jab for health workers

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2021 02:14 PM

Duterte OKs using all AstraZeneca doses on hand as first jab for health workers 1
Health workers inoculate their fellow health workers with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Ospital ng Maynila on March 9, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved using up all of the country's current stock of 525,600 AstraZeneca COVID-19 jabs as first dose to protect more health workers. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier this week recommended that all of the doses be used as the first shot, instead of setting aside some of these for the second shot for health workers. 

The time interval for administering the second dose of AstraZeneca is 3 months from the first jab. This means the country would have enough time to get another shipment of AstraZeneca doses from vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility for the second jab, Duque told Duterte in a taped meeting on Monday. 

"The President has approved the request to utilize all COVAX-donated AstraZeneca vaccine doses as first-dose vaccination in order to protect a larger number of frontline healthcare workers in areas witnessing increased transmission," said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque. 

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will release a memorandum on this, Roque said in a press briefing. 

The Philippines is expected to get 979,200 AstraZeneca shots from COVAX this March or in early April, the country's vaccine "czar" Secretary Carlito Galvez has said. 

The government is also set to receive 1.4 million COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech this month, said Galvez. These will be on top of the 600,000 Sinovac doses that arrived in the country in late February. 

Battling a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Philippines this year aims to vaccinate 70 million people or two-thirds of its population against the respiratory disease.

Video courtesy of PTV