Galvez says PH can start giving boosters by November
MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippines on Wednesday received 2,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by Brunei.
The jabs arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 past 2 p.m. via Royal Brunei Airlines flight BI 683.
It is unclear yet what prompted the Brunei to donate the vaccine shots to the Philippines as of this story's posting, but this is not the first time it helped Manila in its pandemic response.
In April last year, the Philippines also received COVID-19 test kits from Brunei. The shipment was capable of screening about 1,000 people.
According to Reuters' monitoring, Brunei has so far registered 11,047 total COVID-19 infections and 75 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.
A total of 563,695 virus shots have also been administered in the said country, as of Tuesday.
"Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 65 percent of the country’s population," Reuters noted.
The Philippines, on the other hand, has already fully vaccinated nearly 24.7 million people, while some 28.6 million individuals are partially immunized, government data showed.
1.5 MILLION JABS PER DAY
Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. this week said the government plans to administer 1.5 million jabs daily to achieve the target 70 percent of Filipinos by year end.
But based on the latest 7-day average, authorities were able to administer 405,000 doses daily, not even one-third of the current target.
Meanwhile, according to ABS-CBN News' monitoring, 32 percent of the country's population are so far fully immunized from COVID-19.
Galvez said President Rodrigo Duterte planned to meet with local chief executives in key cities to ramp up the inoculation rollout. Out of the 91.5 million total virus jabs delivered to the country, some 38 million shots are still yet to be administered.
“The President is also worried kasi ang taas na ng ating stockpile. Sabi niya, 'General, kailangan i-ensure mo na walang masayang na mga bakuna.' Hanggang mataas ang ating imbentaryo, malaki ang probability na masiraan tayo,” according to Galvez.
(The President is worried because we have a high stockpile. He told me that the vaccines should not be wasted because a high vaccine inventory means that a lot of it could be spoiled.)
He noted that the private sector is handling 400,000 Moderna vaccine jabs, as these shots would expire in November.
“Vax to the max. We will maximize all the resources of the public, the LGUs and the private sector in order to maximize ‘yung vaccination sites. Talagang tanggalin na natin ‘yung delays sa distribution (we will remove the delays in distribution)” he added.
Galvez also said that the country could start administering booster shots by November, but only in select priority sectors.
The emergency use authorization (EUA) of COVID-19 vaccines, however, needs to be amended so this could proceed, he added.
“We believe within October most likely baka ma-issue ‘yun. We will talk with Sir Eric (FDA Director General Eric Domingo) to expedite (the EUA amendment),” said Galvez.
It is also likely that the person would receive the same brand for their booster shots.
“Most likely ‘yung third dose natin as the other countries are doing, most of the booster shots are not reformulated shots, it’s the same shots as yung what we are using, so wala tayong problema (we don't have any problems)," he said.
"Mas maganda ‘yun, kasi wala tayong problema (It is better because we won't have problems). We have more than enough vaccines with the same brand and the same formulation."
“We will look at the final announcement of WHO (World Health Organization) this November,” he added.
The Philippines is reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant, as authorities this week eased virus curbs despite reports that hospitals in the capital region and nearby provinces remained full.
New infections in the country fell below the 8,000-mark for the past week.
-- With reports from Reuters