Expect more doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to arrive in the country in the next few months, the British ambassador to the Philippines said today, shortly after thousands of vials of the drug were delivered last night from the COVAX facility.
COVAX is an initiative that aims to help low and middle-income countries get equitable access to COVID vaccines. Last night the 487,200 AstraZeneca dosages arrived in Manila, donated by several European countries, and developed in South Korea. The vials were the second COVID vaccines to legally arrive in the Philippines, the first being the Sinovac-manufactured vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government.
“[W]ithin the COVAX Facility there will be further deliveries planned, I think 4 to 5 million in total of the AstraZeneca vaccine and other vaccines as well,” Ambassador Daniel Pruce said in an interview with the news program Unang Balita.
Pruce added that there will be more coming through tripartite agreements signed by the Philippine national government, local government units, and AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca is headquartered in Cambridge, England.
“I think you’ll see a steady stream of consignment arriving throughout the rest of the year, and in total, I think by the end of the year we’ll have something of the order of 22 to 23 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Philippines which I think is a fantastic achievement,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nicanor Austriaco, a biologist and a member of the independent OCTA Research Group, yesterday warned that AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be unable to stop the South African variant of the coronavirus, which has been detected in Pasay City. Austriaco is reportedly in the United States where he is involved in the development of an oral COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca has an efficacy of 63.09% and can be used by people aged 65 or older. It is unclear if it can prevent viral transmission.
The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, and the last in the region to start its vaccination drive. As of yesterday, there were 584,667 cases recorded, including 535,037 recoveries and 12,404 deaths.