PH among 1st to receive US-donated vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be among the first recipients of the 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines the United States would be donating to various countries through the COVAX facility, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law said on Friday.
At an online press briefing commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Philippine-US bilateral relations, Law said additional shipments of vaccines would be flown to the Philippines and other countries in the coming months as production by US pharmaceutical companies were expected to improve.
“It’s quite clear that the first tranche will be shared with a number of countries. The Philippines was explicitly named among that first group of countries,” Law said.
“We’re going to be seeing vaccines in significant numbers arriving in the Philippines and countries all around the world,” he added.
The Philippine Embassy in Washington also relayed the statement issued by US President Joe Biden about the 80 million doses the United States would distribute to different countries this month.
It said the Philippines was among the Southeast Asian nations that would benefit from the first 25 million doses of the donated vaccines.
“Approximately 7 million of the first 25 million vaccines will be sent to Asia, including the Philippines,” the Philippine Embassy said.
75% via COVAX, 25% direct
“The United States will share at least three-quarters of its donated doses through COVAX and up to a quarter directly with countries in immediate need,” it said.
Law said the US government decided to share its donation through the COVAX facility to ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccines.
“The White House is currently looking not only at logistical aspects, but also at each country’s regulatory aspects because we’re talking of different vaccines,” he said.
7M doses to 15 countries
“The United States’ commitment to help vaccinate the world is very clear,” he stressed.
The biggest American corporations operating in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have welcomed Biden’s plan to give COVID-19 vaccines to some Asian countries, including the Philippines.
“The US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) recognizes the Biden-Harris administration’s important decision to allocate a total of 7 million [doses of] COVID-19 vaccine to 15 countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam,” the Washington-based big-business group said in a statement.
It noted that “586 million people live in these six Southeast Asian countries alone.”
The US-ABC urged the US government to do more for developing Asia.
“We commend the Biden-Harris administration for committing $4 billion to COVAX, half of which has already been delivered. While we applaud this symbolic step forward of donating 7 million vaccine doses to Asia, it is largely a drop in the bucket,” said Alexander Feldman, chair, president and chief executive of US-ABC.
“A combined population of over 2 billion people across 15 countries needs more than 7 million vaccine doses to have a significant impact,” he said. —Marlon Ramos and Ben O. de Vera
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