7 million vax doses administered to 5 million Pinoys

The Philippines has administered nearly seven million doses of vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019, National Task Force Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vivencio Dizon said Monday.

7 million vax doses administered to 5 million Pinoys
SECOND, FIRST. Scores of people flock to the Marikina Mega Vaccination area at Marikina Sports Center for their first shot of the COVID-19 jab. Manny Palmero
Government data show the country had given 6,948,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Monday morning.

DOH data showed that as of June 14, 1,879,694 persons have received two doses of the vaccine, while 5,068,855 have been jabbed once.

Those who have taken both jabs represent around 1.73% of the population, while around 4.66% of the have received the first of two doses of the vaccine.

This matched Health Undersecretary and treatment czar Leopoldo Vega’s statement Sunday that only about 2 million people out of the Philippines' 109.48 million population have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, almost three months after the national government started its vaccination program.

In a Palace briefing, Dizon said weekly vaccine administration had reached one million doses for three consecutive weeks.

“We are seeing that the vaccination is getting faster,” he said.

Of the total administered vaccines, over 2.4 million shots were given to healthcare workers, over 2.2 million doses to senior citizens, 2.15 million jabs for individuals with comorbidity, and nearly 160,000 doses for the economic front-liners, which started the vaccination last week.

7 million vax doses administered to 5 million Pinoys
SECOND, FIRST. A senior citizen shows off his card as proof of his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus at San Jose Academy in Navotas on Monday. Andrew Rabulan
Dizon said the country administered more COVID-19 vaccines with average daily vaccination of 150,000 last week, with a peak of 220,000 vaccine administration in a day from an average of 30,000 per day.

He attributed this to the increasing number of vaccines arriving in the country.

“Since more vaccines arrived last week, we are confident that our vaccination will increase in the coming days and weeks. And when it comes to vaccines for June and July, we are seeing our numbers continue to increase,” he added. 

Dizon said the government was targeting to inoculate 500,000 doses a day once vaccine supply stabilizes this month.

This was the same figure Vega mentioned the government should hit to reach its goal of vaccinating 50 percent to 70 percent of the population before the end of the year.

As of Monday, total COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in the Philippines reached 12,605,870 doses.

Dizon said the majority of these are donations from COVAX facility and bilateral partners like China, and the rest were vaccines purchased by the government from Sinovac and Gamaleya of Russia.

Vaccine orders of the government from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novovax, and Johnson & Johnson are expected to arrive in the second half of the year, he added.

Vaccine prices

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to disclose the prices of COVID-19 vaccines

He issued the call in Monday's Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program and its utilization of the P82.5 billion budget for the procurement of vaccines.

Galvez and Duque were also directed by Drilon to submit to the Senate COW the supply agreements the Philippines had signed with vaccine manufacturers.

Drilon clarified he was open to the government’s request for additional funds for vaccine procurement but said the government has to make a full account of the P82.5 billion vaccine budget before asking for more funding.

The government had recently said it might need additional P25 billion this year to buy more vaccines and another P55 billion next year for “booster shots.”

Non-disclosure agreement

Drilon said the IATF and DOH could no longer invoke a non-disclosure agreement when the supply agreement has been signed.

“This is not intelligence fund in a closed envelope system. The Commission on Audit will audit it eventually and they cannot hide it,” he said.

He reiterated that the government must be transparent about the cost and terms of the supply agreements.

“How much is the price per dose?” Drilon asked.

He said this information will boost the public’s confidence in the government’s vaccination program.

More transparency

Senator Joel Villanueva sought more transparency from the government particularly on the details on vaccine procurement such as “the price per dose and how much the minimum 140 million doses would cost.”

“If securing vaccines requires prepayment, then the government should adopt a multi-year budgeting approach, and not rely on annualized financing,” said Villanueva.

The senator last week sought to convene the COVID-19 Vaccination Program oversight committee provided in Republic Act 11525.

“What is important is that we have a big picture of our amortization schedule, so to speak. "

But in calculating the total vaccination cost, price per dose is the key baseline data, he said.

“How much is Moderna? How much is Sinovac, ang Sputnik? Pfizer? Then we multiply it with the volume required, plus the cost of administering them. Getting this information is the first step in appropriating funds," he said.

Vaccine passports

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson vouched for a vaccine passport system that would make traveling to the Philippines easier for vaccinated people, especially returning overseas Filipino workers and foreign investors.

Lacson said many returning OFWs and foreign investors were reluctant to come to the Philippines because of tight protocols, especially those that might require them to spend more than a week in a quarantine facility not necessarily of their choice.

"For our returning OFWs, at most, we might require them to take a swab test then allow them to go home, then require them to stay at home for 10 days," he said.

"No need to require them to stay at a hotel," added Lacson. 

Most of the time, he noted that OFWs return to the country because of an emergency.

"But if you are an OFW and you are required to be quarantined for 10 days, how many days of your leave will go to waste? I don’t think that makes sense," he said in an interview on ANC.

Enough supply

If there are enough supplies, local government units may administer COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility to indigent Filipinos, who are part of the A5 priority sector, the DOH said.

The World Health Organization, who leads the vaccine-sharing initiative, has allowed the use of COVAX vaccines on the indigents on top of health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vergeire, however, stressed that the inoculation of the poor against COVID-19 must be strategic as the country is having difficulties due to scarcity of supply.

“We know that the supply is insufficient. This is allowed but it will depend on the supply,” Vergeire said in a briefing.

The WHO previously warned that the Philippines’ supply of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX might be jeopardized if the prioritization list was not followed.

Vaccination in Bohol

The Department of Tourism announced that about 10,000 doses of vaccine would arrive in Bohol within the week to jumpstart the vaccination of  5,000 tourism frontliners in the island.

The arriving doses will consist of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine brand Gamaleya Sputnik (Gam-COVID-Vac). To date, the total number of vaccines that arrived in the country have reached 12.6 million doses.

“With these vaccines, we are assured that frontliners from accredited hotel and resort staff, transport operators, tour site and restaurant facilities will have an added protection against COVID-19,” said Tourism secretary Bernadette Puyat.

Bohol, a prime tourism destination, has been reeling from the massive downturn in the sector. According to the provincial government, more than 200,000 workers were either laid off by their employers or put on itinerant work schedules.

Bohol Governor Arthur Yap clarified that the workers coming from DOT-accredited establishments with Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO), and Bohol’s tourism seal of excellence called the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) Seal, will be prioritized in the early vaccination program.

AstraZeneca vaccines

All AstraZeneca vaccines which are about to expire by the end of June and July have been distributed to various inoculation sites, the Department of Health said.

Around 2.4 million AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered to individuals, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.

The DOH earlier said 1.5 million jabs from the British manufacturing giant would expire by the end of June, while another 1 million vaccines would spoil by the latter part of July.

Sixty percent of these jabs will be shipped to "regions with high burden of cases," while 40 percent will be distributed to inoculation sites in the National Capital Region and eight provinces, she said.

Essential workers

The Philippines has vaccinated in an average more than 127,000 workers a week since the national government started inoculating Filipinos employed in essential sectors.

Some 12 million from Metro Manila, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao will be prioritized in the inoculation of essential workers, the government said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Philippines was seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel" as the country continues to protect government and private workers against the disease that has infected at least 1.2 million Filipinos.

The government needs to vaccinate 70 percent of the 110 million Filipinos to attain herd immunity by the end of the year.

Documentation lack

The Department of Health said the distribution of the latest one million doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines was put on hold as it awaits the submission of a certificate from the Chinese drugmaker.

Vergeire said Sinovac had yet to release the certificate of analysis for the additional one million doses delivered to the Philippines last week.

“We cannot distribute or transport these vaccines to specific recipients... if our documents are not complete,” Vergeire said in a briefing.

The distribution of Sinovac vaccines to inoculation sites was also delayed last month due to the lack of the same certificate.

Topics: coronavirus disease 2019 , Department of Health , COVID-19 Vaccination Program
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