UPDATED | The country's total volume of COVID-19 vaccine doses will hit 18 million by the end of June, Senator Christopher Go, chairman of the Senate health committee, said. Go's camp clarified Friday the number was the cumulative total since the first arrival of COVID-19 jabs from China's Sinovac on February 28.
He said more vaccines were set to arrive in the country, including the one million additional doses of Sinovac vaccines which arrived Sunday, and the upcoming two million doses of Pfizer vaccines from the COVAX Facility.
“If we will halve it, those who will be vaccinated by these could reach nine million,” noted Go.
At present, he said more than five million Filipinos have been innoculated.
Go also said the Philippines was one of the priority nations in Asia that would share seven million doses from the first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines the United States would donate globally.
He said the Philippines posted the highest rate of vaccination in Southeast Asia.
“Our country also topped the COVID-19 Global Scorecard on Accountability,” he added.
Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) on Thursday shipped to Manila another batch of one million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Beijing.
The Sinovac vaccines were airlifted via CEB flight 5J-671, and arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 7:35 a.m.
“We are glad to keep supporting our government in the rollout of its vaccination program. We are keen to continue playing our part in this national endeavor through the safe transport of COVID-19 vaccines across our network of international and domestic destinations,” said Alex Reyes, CEB chief strategy officer.
This was the fifth shipment picked up by the airline from China, in close coordination with the Department of Health.
“With the arrival of these life-saving vaccines, we will continue our aggressive vaccine program to protect more Filipinos from COVID-19,” said vaccine czar, Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
“We appreciate the support of Cebu Pacific and other Philippine carriers to expedite vaccine distribution throughout the country,” he added.
Upon arrival, the vaccines were inspected by authorities, and were immediately transferred to refrigerated container vans going to the cold storage facility of Pharmaserv Express in Barangay San Roque, Marikina City.
The transported vaccines were subject to strict handling guidelines which entail storing them in temperature-specific refrigerated containers to maintain potency and efficacy up until arrival at their designated stations.
In related developments:
* Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) officials on Thursday gave assurances the government’s third-party cold-storage facility can accommodate the arrival of around 3.2 million coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. “We’re not worried about that,” said IATF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon when asked if PharmaServ Express has the capacity to store a huge number of vaccines. Dizon said the vaccines would not stay long in the cold-storage facility as PharmaServ can quickly and safely deliver the said doses to various parts of the country. Ariel Valencia, director of the Department of Health-Supply Chain Management Service, said PharmaServ can accommodate around 15 million COVID-19 vaccines of any type due to its state-of-the-art, most technologically advanced and world-class storage facility.
PharmaServ has the capability to accept vaccines that need different storage temperature requirements, from Sinovac and AstraZeneca’s positive 2 to 8 degrees to the negative 18 degrees Celsius required by Gamaleya and even the negative 80 to negative 25 degrees Celsius temperature requirement of Moderna and Pfizer.
* A member of the minority bloc has called on the government to conduct weekend vaccinations against COVID-19 to accommodate people who are working on weekdays. “Weekend inoculations are important as this would allow people to continue working and earning for their families and loved ones,” Rep. Janette Garin of Iloilo said. Garin said there were many workers willing to get vaccinated but could not get one as their weekday jobs were getting in the way. Garin, a former
Secretary of the Department of Health, said weekend inoculations would give workers a chance to rest after getting vaccinated. “If they get vaccinated using mRNA vaccines, they can rest on Sunday while those taking the inactivated vaccine can receive their jabs on Sunday,” Garin said.