White House: US begins shipping 3.2-M COVID shots to Philippines

Reuters

Posted at Jul 16 2021 02:27 AM

White House: US begins shipping 3.2-M COVID shots to Philippines 1
A general view in the hours before U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 15, 2021. Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

WASHINGTON—The United States has started shipping 3.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines, the White House said on Thursday, as Washington continues its coronavirus diplomacy by sharing doses with developing nations.

"We are beginning to ship over 3.2 million doses of J&J to the Philippines today," White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter. 

The Philippines so far has administered at least 13,442,299 doses, enough for just 6.2% of its population based on a two-dose regiment, according to Reuters data. It has registered 1,485,457 infections and 26,232 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.  

J&J's one-shot vaccine does not have to be refrigerated as some others do, potentially easing its distribution. A survey earlier this month showed the number of Filipinos willing to get inoculated has also grown in recent months as safety concerns ebbed.

Much of Asia is grappling with spikes in COVID-19 cases amid new variants and vaccine supply constraints, and the World Bank on Thursday trimmed its economic growth forecasts for the East Asia and Pacific region, excluding China.

Philippine economic officials have said the pandemic's impact will be transitory and that the economy is poised for a rebound.

The country is still grappling with other measures to curb infections, recently moving to allow children to go outdoors while also banning travelers from Indonesia, where a new variant has taken hold.

The U.S.-donated vaccines are part of the Biden administration's support for COVAX, the global vaccine sharing program with the World Health Organization to help distribute vaccines to poorer countries.

Haiti, Moldova, Costa Rica and other countries have also received doses from the United States in recent days.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Nick Macfie) 

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