Manila, 8 May 2021 — The United Nations (UN) in the Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez welcomed the delivery today of more than 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility, the international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. Today’s shipment is in addition to half a million doses delivered in March and is part of the 4.5 million total doses committed to the Philippines from COVAX.
COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as the World Bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers, and others.
Joined by Health Secretary Franciso Duque III and country representatives of the WHO and UNICEF at a ceremony at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Gonzalez said, “COVAX is a demonstration of multilateralism in action and its success depends on global collaboration – from the scientists and manufacturers over public health officials, and policy and decision makers, to the medical practitioners and the communities who will eventually benefit from the vaccines. It is the result of this global collaboration we see here today.”
Nearly 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines delivered last March have been provided to local government units (LGUs). As of 2 May 2021, out of the 525,600 doses, 525,337 have been administered to health workers, the elderly, and persons with underlying health conditions. This new shipment of vaccines will provide second doses to those who have already been administered the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as other target populations.
Gonzalez said, “These 2 million doses represent a lifeline for so many Filipinos who have been waiting for relief from the suffering and the fear that this virus has brought upon all of us. Looking at these vials, I see hope and relief for Filipinos who need it most.”
In addition to the support being provided by UNICEF and WHO through the COVAX Facility, Gonzalez said that all UN agencies in the Philippines have been mobilized to pool capacities, technologies and resources in support of a successful vaccination campaign. The UN is providing logistics equipment like Mobile Storage Units, generators, and prefab offices and transport support to move medical supplies. It is supporting Local Government Units (LGUs) with technical assistance to help ensure equity and inclusion in the vaccination programme.
Committed to leave no one behind, the UN is coordinating with the DOH and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to advocate for the inclusion of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, especially those belonging to priority vaccination groups, in the national vaccination programme.
In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the UN is supplying cold chain management equipment including specialized cold chain vehicles, biosafety refrigerators, and ultra-low temperature freezers, among others.
The UN is also providing training to healthcare workers on cold chain management and COVID-19 testing, and is addressing misconceptions about vaccination through intensive and nationwide information campaigns.
The UN Philippines meets regularly with DOH officials to reinforce the UN’s support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response and for the national COVID-19 vaccination programme.