The government is expecting the arrival of an additional 38,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility today, March 7, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Saturday.
On Thursday night, the initial 487,200 shots of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the Philippines through the COVAX facility.
By the third week of March, 400,000 more doses of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered.
“We will prioritize the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines to those who did not receive the Sinovac vaccines and are willing to get vaccinated,” Galvez said.
The government will also prioritize the local deployment of AstraZeneca vaccines to areas with a surge in new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections, including Calabarzon and Central Visayas, as well as the cities of Baguio and Davao.
“Our priority is to give the vaccines to areas with a high number of new COVID-19 cases, “ he said.
Amid the limited global supply of COVID-19 vaccines, Galvez said the arrival of AstraZeneca and Sinovac jabs was a huge relief.
“As promised by the Chinese embassy and the Chinese government to complete one million doses, another 400,000 doses are set to arrive,” he said.
On top of the Chinese government’s donations, Galvez said the country’s procured Sinovac jabs would arrive by the end of March onwards.
The Department of Health said Saturday the rollout of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine should proceed, brushing aside claims that it was ineffective against the South Africa variant of the coronavirus.
DOH spokesperson Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in an interview on Dobol B TV,
echoed the World Health Organization’s stance that the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca was still effective in places with widespread transmission of the South Africa variant.
“Our countrymen should understand that) those people talking like this are basing their assumptions on just one study wherein there is a very small population that was studied on,” Vergeire said.
On Wednesday, molecular biologist and OCTA Research fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco claimed that the AstraZeneca jab is “no different [from] injecting water” into COVID-19 patients with the South Africa variant.
13k people vaccinated
The Department of Health on Saturday said there were now more than 13,000 individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that 61 “adverse events” occurred since the roll out of the national vaccination program on March 1.
“As of 6 p.m. yesterday [Friday] we have 13,639 inmate sites that we’ve already given vaccinations in the 39 vaccination sites,” DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told the Laging Handa public briefing.
“Also yesterday, based on the data, as of 6 p.m., we have 61 adverse events following immunization,” she added.
Vergeire, however did not elaborate on the “adverse events.”
According to Vergeire, the DOH recorded 700 vaccinees on the first day of vaccination, but increased to 3,000 to 4,000 after two days.
Rollout in provinces
Some provinces in the country have begun the rollout of the national vaccination program against COVID-19.
The vaccination rollout began in Laoag, Ilocos Norte in Northerm Luzon, on Saturday morning, following the arrival of the first 2,446 doses of Coronavac vaccine on Friday night.
Region 12 in Mindanao was set to begin on Saturday the vaccination process for its medical frontliners.
Nearly 18,000 vials of the Coronavac vaccine for the medical frontliners of the region’s 23 COVID-19 referral hospitals arrived on Saturday.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led on Saturday the rollout of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City.
Duque injected the vaccine on 69-year-old CSMC senior vice president and chief medical officer Dr. Zenaida Javier-Uy, who was the first to receive the AstraZeneca vaccination at the hospital.
Uy said she has so far felt no side effects after her inoculation.
The CSMC received around 500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Saturday early morning, aside from the initial 1,300 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines.
CSMC spokesperson Corinne Ilagan said the hospital has more than 2,000 employees, and 1,900 of them were scheduled to be vaccinated in eight days.
Two of the first eight hospital workers to be vaccinated in the Cordillera region on Friday were support staff who help in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019.
Cyrence Romero, a utility worker at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, said the only thing she felt while being injected was the needle piercing her skin.
Romero said she did not feel drowsy or anything unusual even after she was vaccinated.
“I am happy because I will be the reason why many of us would be vaccinated,” she said in an interview on the sidelines of the rollout of the vaccination in the region.
Romero said as a “carer”, her task involved cleaning and collecting the wastes generated at the hospital, including the COVID-19 ward.
The first to receive the vaccine was Dr. Ricardo Runez, BGHMC’s chief of hospital, followed by Dr. Rey Suanding, chief professional staff; Dr. Thea Pamela Cajulao, infectious disease specialist; chief nurse Joselito Datud; and Patrick Henry Villanueva, chief of legal affairs.