MANILA - At least 415,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, donated by the United Kingdom, arrived in the Philippines on Monday.
The fresh shipment of 415,040 doses were received at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 4:30 p.m. by vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. and UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce.
It is part of the initial 9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that the UK government is donated to other countries. Up to 100 million doses have been pledged by the UK to be donated by June 2022, 80 million of which will go to the vaccine-sharing platform COVAX.
“We have a very important shared objective in ensuring maximum access to vaccines and making sure as well that once vaccines are delivered, that they are deployed and administered effectively,” said Pruce.
“Collaboration, shared objectives and partnership and transparency between all of us is the way through. This is why I think today is a powerful illustration of how two countries are working together,” he added.
The Philippine government has yet to announce where to allocate the new batch of vaccines, which must be administered in two doses.
So far, more than 34.2 million vaccine doses have been received by the Philippines, including products from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya Institute and Sinovac, as monitored by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
More than a third were donations by other countries and from the COVAX facility, while majority were procured by the national and local governments, and the private sector.
Some 9.1 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the government said. It earlier said some 58 to 70 million are targeted for full vaccination by the end of the year to attain herd immunity against the disease.
On Tuesday, more than 3 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, donated by the United States, are also expected to arrive in the country.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Monday afternoon that the indicative number of vaccine doses expected to be delivered in the country is almost 17 million.
But he said that the vaccine cluster headed by Galvez wants to raise this to as much as 20-25 million.
"Wino-work out na ngayon ng vaccine cluster na for the month of August, eh sana umabot tayo ng 20 to 25 million doses na darating sa bansa... Yung mga na-purchase natin, yung mga supply agreements, gusto ni Sec. Charlie (Galvez), i-advance na nilang ipadala," Nograles said.
"'Wag na intayin yung October, September. Kumbaga, i-advance na nila lahat, I-frontload na nila lahat. Pati sa COVAX, sa WHO, yun din ang pakiusap namin to deliver the bring the vaccines already, as early as August, yung bulk ng deliveries," he added.
The Philippines is battling thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily, which local transmission of the highly infectious Delta variant is threatening to worsen. There is also an uptick in the number of COVID-19 related deaths in the country.
- with report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News