The Philippines is considering donating COVID-19 vaccines to Myanmar and African countries, as the vaccination rate in the country slows down due to declining COVID-19 cases.
In a virtual press conference on Tuesday (March 8), Department of Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said that the country has enough vaccine supply, with some nearing its shelf life expiry.
“Una, ang ginawa natin ay nag-request tayo sa regulatory department ng manufacturer kung pwedeng i-extend ‘yung shelf life. Tapos kung okay ‘yan, mag-request sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration) para ma-approve ‘yan (First, we requested the regulatory department of the manufacturers if the shelf life could be extended. If it is fine, we will request FDA to approve it),” she said.
Cabotaje, who also heads the National Task Force Against COVID-19’s National Vaccine Operations Center, said that they are working with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to look into countries that are lacking in vaccines, such as Southeast Asian and African countries.
However, there is still no specific number of vaccine doses to be donated according to Cabotaje.
As of Monday, the country has received a total of 232,673,310 doses since vaccine deliveries began early last year, data from National Task Force Against COVID-19 showed. About 60 million of the received doses remain in cold storage facilities.
The country is yet to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of its population and 80% of the elderly population. To date, around 63 million individuals, or only 58% of the population in the country are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, vaccination rate has slowed down because urgency to receive booster shots was low, Cabotaje said, adding that the government is recalibrating its strategies.
The government has placed Metro Manila and 38 other areas under Alert Level 1 since March 1, citing declining infections and hospital admission cases.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.
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