The Group of Twenty (G20) has recognized the Philippines as an “example country” in the acceleration of pandemic vaccine deployment, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has said.
Galvez reported the group of major developed and emerging economies commended the Philippines for ramping up its vaccination efforts despite high hesitancy and low supplies at the early stages of the national immunization program.
“They acknowledged that the Philippines is an example country in the acceleration of the vaccine deployment,” Galvez told President Rodrigo Duterte in his prerecorded Talk to the People.
“They saw that we were able to increase the coverage. We had a lot of obstacles especially due to the Dengvaxia mishap,” Galvez added, referring to the dengue vaccine that reportedly caused some 620 deaths among children after its initial rollout in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Philippines will begin the rollout of the second COVID-10 booster shots to vulnerable sectors by next week at the latest, a government official said Tuesday.
The Food and Drug Administration granted last week the amendment of COVID-19 vaccines’ emergency use authorization to include a fourth jab for the elderly, immunocompromised and health workers.
The National Vaccination Operations Center is waiting for the final recommendations of the Health Technology Assessment Council, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said.
“There’s some delay in the HTAC recommendation but hopefully we can roll out by the end of the week at the earliest or by the start of next week at the latest,” she said during a televised press briefing.
“We will launch this in NCR although Region 3 and Region 4-A have requested to be included. Then we will expand it nationwide,” she said.
Cabotaje said vaccines included in the approved EUA amended were Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik Light, and Janssen.
There is an interval period of four months between the first and second booster, she added.
Galvez, for his part, said the G20 commendation was a “huge recognition” for the Philippines coming from the international community.
The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.
Foreign nations have also lauded risk communication and community engagement strategies among local government units and the tireless efforts of health care workers and other front-liners, Galvez said.
Most parts of the country are under Alert Level 1, the lowest risk classification.
The national government is continuously coordinating with local governments to prevent a likely surge of 300,000 daily COVID-19 cases by mid-May.
Dr. Rajendra Yadav, World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, said authorities must focus on vaccination instead of the number of possible virus cases.
Around 12 million Filipinos have so far received booster shots, while 36 million more are eligible to receive it, said Cabotaje.
There are a total of 66 million individuals with primary doses, she said.