MANILA (UPDATED) — The Philippines on late Thursday took delivery of 1 million COVID-19 shots that Tokyo donated, which President Rodrigo Duterte said would "go a long way" in helping the country reach its immunization targets.
The jabs donated by Japan were developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Malacañang earlier said.
The delivery raises the total jabs that the Philippines has received to about 18.4 million. Delays in the delivery of other vaccines recently halted or limited the inoculation in several areas.
"These more than 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine will surely go a long way in our quest for her immunity," said Duterte during a late night arrival ceremony for the jabs.
"Japan continues to be our strong partner in various development programs, our cooperation in fighting the pandemic is truly an indication of the true friendship between our two countries," he said.
The President thanked Japan "for working with the Philippine government in ensuring equitable access to the vaccines."
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"I express my heartfelt gratitude to Japan for all of the assistance you have extended to our country during these challenging times," added.
Video courtesy of RTVM
Japan "has ensured to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines," said Japanese Chargé d'affaires ad interim Masahiro Nakata.
"This initiative is a clear testament to the deep-rooted bounds of friendship between our nations," he said, quoting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
"We want to surpass the unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in unison with the Philippines, a true friend closer than a brother," he added.
The Philippines this week is set to receive another 2 million AstraZeneca shots from vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility, and some 170,000 government-procured doses from Russia's Gamaleya Institute, said Malacañang.
"To my fellow Filipinos, please know that we remain committed to acquiring a sufficient supply of safe and effective COIVD-19 vaccines for all our countrymen," said Duterte.
At least 3 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as of July 7.
The government aims to inoculate 58 to 70 million of the Philippines' 109 million people to safely reopen the economy, which suffered its worst postwar slump last year as lockdowns meant to contain the coronavirus outbreak left businesses struggling.
With some 1.4 million coronavirus infections, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 tally in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.