MANILA (UPDATE)— More than half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been given to Filipinos during the first 23 days of the country's inoculation drive, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
Vaccine statistics released by the DOH showed that as of March 23, “62.14% of the allocated first doses have already been administered, totaling to 508,332 administered doses.”
Of the 1,125,600 available doses, 1,105,500 or 98.21% have already been distributed to vaccination sites.
These do not include the 400,000 doses from Sinovac that arrived on Wednesday morning.
The newly-delivered batch is also donated and brings the total number of Sinovac doses received by the Philippines to 1 million.
The country had also received 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility.
“With the arrival of the 400K doses of SINOVAC, we are sure to protect more HCWs (health care workers),” the DOH said.
Nearly 2 more million vaccine doses, both from Sinovac and AstraZeneca, are expected to arrive later this month, according to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr.
Across the country, 1,759 vaccination sites have been set up, spread all throughout the 17 regions.
Metro Manila has received the largest bulk of doses, with 279,870, followed by Central Visayas, with 110,760. The Bangsamoro region got the lowest allocation so far, with 18,400 doses.
But in terms of the administration of the 1st doses out of their total allocation, Region 10 topped the rollout at a little over 100 percent, followed by Region 2 at 99 percent. Metro Manila has only used up 59.4 percent of its 1st dose allocations.
Region 3, meanwhile, registered the lowest 1st dose utilization rate, at 33.7 percent, followed by the Bangsamoro region, at 34.9 percent.
The second dose for the Sinovac vaccine should be administered after 4 weeks, while that for AstraZeneca should be between 4-12 weeks later.
The government has been criticized for its slow rollout of vaccines, which started March 1, a day after the country received its first supply, courtesy of Sinovac. Up to 70 million Filipinos are targeted to be vaccinated by the end of the year to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus.
Besides the pace of the rollout, concerns against government officials and non-health workers jumping the vaccination prioritization queue have also been raised.
The DOH reiterated that the violation of the prioritization framework, which has frontline health workers at the top of the list, might jeopardize the country’s access to COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said the government needs to administer at least 3.4 million doses to inoculate Filipino healthcare workers, and reported violations of the vaccination prioritization queue may harm the country's vaccine drive.
"Kulang na kulang talaga 'yung bakuna sa ngayon … so kailangan po talagang sundin 'yung atin pong priority listing … para maging maayos po ang ating bakunahan program," he said in an aired public briefing.
(Our vaccines are still not enough … so we need to follow our priority list … so our vaccination program will be well-executed.)
The Philippines has seen a surge in coronavirus infections this month, which officials and analysts attribute to the presence of COVID-19 variants, the increased mobility of people, and non-compliance with health protocols.
On Monday, the country logged a record-high of 8,019 additional cases, half of which are in Metro Manila. The capital region has been classified as "high risk" due to the speed of the virus transmission.
The highest number of COVID-19 active cases in a day was also recorded on Tuesday, at 86,200, which accounts for 12.7 percent of the 677,653 cumulative total infections as of the same day.
Metro Manila and its four surrounding provinces - Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal - have been placed in a bubble with stricter restrictions beginning March 22 until April 4 in a bid to counter the spike in cases.