News – PH – PH’s non-compliance with COVAX may “compromise” assigned vaccines – WHO official


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, 4th Mar 23) – The Philippines could run the risk of losing millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the global COVAX facility if prioritization requirements, including strict mapping of scarce vaccines to medical front liners and vulnerable sectors, are not met, an official warned the World Health Organization on Thursday

WHO representative in the Philippines Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the country needs to show that it can properly import the vaccines it will receive through the COVAX facility.He said repeatedly that the second requirement is for vaccines to be given to health care workers who have COVID- 19 patients, then to the elderly and those with comorbidities

The WHO official urged the Duterte government, which has been shown to have skipped the priority list for vaccines and used smuggled doses, to ensure compliance with requirements agreed and signed by Filipino officials

“We urge the DOH and all partners involved in the introduction of the vaccines to adhere to these priorities so that we do not interfere with and endanger future deliveries of vaccines to the Philippines via the COVAX facility,” he said in a press conference

President Rodrigo Duterte’s close security team had already received smuggled COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese company Sinopharm in late 2020 despite no regulatory approval.His former special envoy, Mon Tulfo, also announced that he and thousands of other government officials were soldiers and police officers were vaccinated with Sinopharm

Duterte also has the vaccine tsar Carlito Galvez Jr He was testing Tsar Vince Dizon and MMDA chief Benhur Abalos to be vaccinated with Sinovac in the ongoing rollout, but several other government officials including Interior Minister Jonathan Malaya, MMDA Chief of Staff Michael Salalima and Pasay Vice Mayor Boyet del Rosario took the shot – effectively skip the line that was intended for healthcare workers

Abeyasinghe sternly reminded, “We urge everyone involved to take this into account. We know everyone feels at risk, but it is a relative risk issue if we want to make sure we continue to urge us from within the COVAX facility to access the vaccines, we need to demonstrate that we can follow the prioritization ”

About 487000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, described by Abeyasinghe as “one of the biggest shipments” on first delivery to developing countries, arrive on Thursday evening

The Philippines are also expected to receive 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines by May and 117000 doses of Pfizer vaccines – possibly more – as part of the COVAX initiative led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO, but this can be at risk if the government fails to comply

Abeyasinghe said they would not “monitor” the national vaccination program, but rather review reports of violations.Although he did not specifically say that the Philippines’ access to COVAX will be blocked, he warned the facility might consider doing one for the country to reassign proposed vaccines to other nations that are more committed to saving more lives by prioritizing the protection of healthcare workers

“Given the huge need for vaccines around the world, with multiple reports of prioritization violations, COVAX may have to decide how to approach this challenge. My word of caution is that we don’t go there,” he said

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Vaccine, AstraZeneca, World Health Organization, Serum Institute of India, Lesotho

News – PH – Non-compliance with COVAX by PH may jeopardize assigned vaccines – WHO official