The White House has officially named the Philippines as one of the recipients of its vaccine donation, with the delivery expected soon, according to the United States Embassy in Manila.
"The President's been very clear on the US commitment to help countries throughout the world on this. We're going to be seeing vaccines in significant numbers arriving in the Philippines and countries all around the world," Embassy Chargé d'Affaires John Law said in a virtual briefing Friday.
Law expects Manila's portion to be delivered "soon" but he did not provide a specific date, citing the logistical aspects that the White House needs to sort out first.
"The White House is currently looking at not only the logistical aspects but also, of course, each country may have different regulatory aspects, we're talking about different as well, so I think the White House needs a little bit of time to sort those out but I would expect the announcement very soon," he said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson described as a "gesture of friendship" the inclusion of the Philippines in the list of of the United States government's recipients of the first 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be shared.
He thanked the United States for making the Philippines one of the first beneficiaries of its COVID vaccine-sharing strategy.
But he also suggested that this be done bilaterally if possible to make sure Filipinos get the vaccines sooner, even as he pushed for greater efforts by our government to enhance people's trust in the vaccines.
"Thank you. We won’t forget this gesture of friendship. Unless World Health Organization protocols are too strict on vaccine donations, it would be better if it’s done bilaterally instead of through COVAX. Our people need the vaccines ASAP," said Lacson on his Twitter account.
The US is donating about 80 million doses of US-made coronavirus vaccine worldwide by the end of the month.
Last June 3, it announced that the initial 19 million doses would be shared through COVAX Facility while approximately six million doses will be sent directly to countries in immediate need or those experiencing surges.
To be coursed through COVAX Facility, approximately seven million doses will be donated to Asia, including the Philippines, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, and the Pacific Islands.
Its direct donation, meanwhile, will be targeted toward regional priorities and partner recipients, including Mexico, Canada, and the Republic of Korea, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Haiti, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, India, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as for United Nations frontline workers.
In other developments:
• Pending loans from the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the President's Contingent Fund would be used for the payment of around 4 million doses of vaccines and its logistical costs for the upcoming June 2021 deliveries, said Senator Christopher Go. He commended President Rodrigo Duterte for approving a proposal that would allow the National Task Force Against COVID-19 access to the fund. "This will ensure a continuous and steady supply of vaccines. The move will also ensure that vaccine manufacturers are paid within the month of June, securing the country’s vaccine allocation which is important in the unhampered rollout of the national vaccination program," said Go.
• The Department of Health sees no issue with individuals getting inoculated in areas that they are not residents of. This, after two former government officials, got their COVID-19 vaccine in Davao City. “We also need to allow some portability where you can get vaccinated if you go to an area because you are temporarily staying there or what,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. Former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and former Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr. got their COVID-19 jab in Davao City on Wednesday during a visit to Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Some netizens have questioned whether Teodoro and Andaya were Davao residents.