MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines on Monday launched a vaccination campaign to curb one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus in Southeast Asia, but is facing supply-side public resistance that hopes to alleviate by vaccinating high-ranking officials.
Government officials, along with medical և military և police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated at six hospitals in Manipolit Manila after President Rodrigo Duterte and other high-ranking officials received 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine donated by China on Sunday.
At the Philippine State Hospital in Manila, the hospital’s director, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, was first vaccinated by a nurse in a televised event, followed by government and health officials.
“Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move forward, “said Isla Moreno, the mayor of Manila at the hospital, adding that he would be vaccinated in about a week after the vaccination.
The Philippines was one of the last countries in Southeast Asia to receive the first batch of vaccines due to delivery delays, although it reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. The quarantine restrictions have pushed Manila’s economy back into one of the worst recessions in the region, causing unemployment and famine.
“Our economy is really in decline because at home, the sooner the vaccines speed up, the better,” Duterte told a news conference late Sunday night as he witnessed the delivery of Chinese donated vaccines at the capital’s airbase.
Duterte said he was considering easing quarantine restrictions in the capital and elsewhere as the vaccination campaign gained momentum. With only 600,000 doses for about 300,000 people to receive two doses each, Monday vaccinations were considered symbolic.
In addition to the vaccine donated by China to Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has ordered 25 million doses for the Chinese-based company, but no exact delivery date has been set. Health Minister Francisco Duke III has announced that the initial delivery of 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which was originally scheduled for Monday, will be delayed by a week due to delivery problems.
China’s donation is at least a fraction of the $ 148 million the government is negotiating in a massive foreign-funded campaign to insure some 70 million Filipinos free of charge in West Asian companies. Most of the shipments are expected to arrive at the end of this year amid a global turmoil over COVID-19 vaccines.
The Duterte administration has been criticized for lagging behind many other Southeast Asian countries in providing vaccines, but the president has said that rich western countries have introduced large doses for their citizens, leaving the poorer ones behind for the rest.
In addition to supply issues, there have been concerns about vaccine safety, mainly due to fears of the dengue vaccine, which forced the Duterte administration to discontinue mass immunization in 2017. Concerns about the Synovac vaccine have also raised concerns among health professionals about its low efficacy compared to others developed in the West and Russia.
Carlito Galves Jr., who is leading the government’s efforts to provide the vaccine, said Duterte had seen some research showing low public confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and had ordered him and other senior officials to be vaccinated.
At the General Hospital of the Philippines, where he was vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, Galves said that Filipinos could not return to normal life, “the economy could not recover if people refused immunization, they preferred Western vaccines, which would come later.” year:
“We should not wait for the so-called best vaccine. “There is no best vaccine, because the best vaccines are the ones that are effective, effective, and come soon,” Galves said during a speech at the hospital.