Government starts farming out AstraZeneca jabs

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FOUR days after the arrival of some COVID-19 vaccines developed by Oxford University and British biopharmaceutical firm AstrZeneca, the government has started farming out less than half of the 525,600 donated AstraZeneca doses across the country.

In a television interview, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that 240,700 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have already been shipped to various regions for the inoculation of health workers and medical frontliners aged 60 and above.

“We have deployed these 240,700 AstraZeneca doses all over the country for health workers and medical frontline. Malaking tulong ito sa ating rollout,” Nograles said.

In the event that the AstraZeneca jabs are all used up, the World Health Organization (WHO) assured the country to get 4.5 additional doses from its COVAX facility.

COVAX facility is a WHO global initiative aimed at giving equitable access for vaccines to poor nations.

“Inaasahan natin na sunod sunod na itong delivery from COVAX facility as they promised,” Nograles added.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the AstraZeneca an efficacy rate pegged at 70 percent, a much higher potency on the second shot within the next 12 weeks.

As this developed, American biotech firm Moderna also agreed to supply the Philippine government 13 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, with deliveries expected to start in mid-2021.

Moderna said it was negotiating with private companies in the Philippines for an additional supply of seven million doses. Its vaccine has up to 95 percent efficacy based on clinical trials.

It said it was also working on an emergency use authorization for the vaccine, a requirement before the rollout this year. So far, the Philippines FDA has certified jabs from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Pfizer as fit for emergency use. Sinopharm has also applied for an EUA.

“We remain committed to making our vaccine available on every continent to help end this global pandemic,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Boston-based Moderna.

The government started its COVID-19 vaccination program last March 1.

The Philippines has so far received 1.125 million donated doses from AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday said the Philippines will prioritize health workers in its vaccination efforts against COVID-19 until two million of them have received shots to protect them from the coronavirus.

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