|Posted on March 4, 2021 at 9:05 AM|
A total of 487,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca have arrived in the Philippines.
In a tweet, GMA News reporter Raffy Tima said the KML flight carrying the vaccines from Belgium has landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The vaccines are part of the supply allocated to the Philippines by the global vaccine-sharing COVAX scheme.
President Rodrigo Duterte will personally welcome the arrival of the vaccines.
The vaccine formerly known as AZD1222 was created by viral vector technique using a bioengineered version of a harmless common-cold virus found in chimpanzees to instruct human cells to make antigens.
Earlier touted as one of the frontrunners in the fight against the virus, the vaccine ran into headwinds due to a dosing discrepancy, when it was discovered that many of the United Kingdom trial subjects had inadvertently been given only about a half dose of the vaccine.
Moreover, it was later found that the regimen of a half dose followed by a full dose booster appeared to be 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, while two full doses scored 62%.
The vaccine, however, received a huge boost when it was approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson touting the vaccine as a homegrown achievement.
The World Health Organization has since approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the company becoming the first to join the globally-pooled vaccine arsenal COVAX.
In fact, the first wave of COVAX distribution will be almost entirely reliant on AstraZeneca. Last week, Ghana became the first nation to receive a shipment of vaccines from COVAX. The vaccines were from AstraZeneca. Its president, Nana Akufo-Addo, became the world's first recipient of a free jab from COVAX.
In the Philippines, several local government units have signed tripartite agreements with AstraZeneca and the national government for orders of the vaccine for their constituents.
In a statement, the European Union welcomed the arrival of the vaccines, saying it provided P130 billion to help 92 low- and middle-income countries, including the Philippines, gain access to COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
“Team Europe is proud to contribute to the COVAX facility to help provide for affordable and fair access to vaccines for Filipinos,” European Union Ambassador Luc Veron said in a statement.
“Under COVAX, the Philippines will receive vaccines for 22 million Filipinos,” he added.
It said that it hopes to vaccinate 20 percent of the country’s population.
“The EU has both a responsibility and interest to make vaccines available to all,” Véron said.
“The European Union has maintained its goal to work in solidarity for vaccine cooperation and multilateralism—none is safe until everyone is safe,” he added.
In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the vaccines will be of great help to the country's healthcare workers.
"The long days and nights of waiting are finally over... With every dose that we will administer, we are inching towards a safer recovery from this pandemic. So, let us put our trust in science, in vaccines. Together, we will rise as a nation and heal as one,” he said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier said there is no rollout date yet for the vaccines as the government is waiting for the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group on which sector it could be best utilized.
In January, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an emergency use authorization for AstraZeneca's vaccine. — BM, GMA News