by Louise Maureen Simeon – The Philippine Star , 22 Sep 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The target of inoculating at least 40 percent of the population of every country hangs in the balance as vaccine access remains limited, threatening global economic recovery, international organizations announced yesterday.
They reiterated the call on advanced economies to release vaccines and ensure that low- and lower middle-income countries receive COVID-19 jabs.
The Multilateral Leaders Task Force composed of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization recently met with vaccine manufacturers to discuss how to improve access to COVID-19 shots.
“Without urgent steps, the world is unlikely to achieve the end-2021 target of vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries – a critical milestone to end the pandemic and for global economic recovery,” the Task Force said.
“Despite adequate total global vaccine production in the aggregate, the doses are not reaching low- and lower middle-income countries in sufficient amounts, resulting in a crisis of vaccine inequity,” the Task Force added.
Developing economies not manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Philippines, have no choice but to depend on rich countries and the COVAX Facility to secure their supply.
Countries continue to face challenges in securing COVID-19 vaccines due to several factors, including a spike in cases in the source countries, logistics problems and vaccine nationalism.
Other countries with high vaccination rates have collectively pre-purchased over two billion doses in excess of what was required to fully vaccinate their populations. Some economies are already administering booster shots.
While the Philippines had allocated funds to procure vaccines needed to achieve herd immunity, the problem lies in the supply and the arrival of the jabs.
The target of vaccinating 70 percent of the Philippine population before the year ends now looks far fetched, with the Department of Health admitting that this may be achieved by the first quarter of 2022.
The Task Force encouraged countries that have procured high amounts of vaccine doses, and drug manufacturers, to come together in good faith to immediately accelerate COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
Data showed that 32 percent of the 7.9 billion global population has been fully vaccinated. In the Philippines, 17.1 percent of the population have received complete vaccine doses.
‘fiPzer safe for ages 5 to 11’
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday welcomed reports that the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer is also safe for children aged five to 11.
FDA chief Eric Domingo said Pfizer could apply for amendment of its emergency use authorization (EUA) issued by the FDA, for the jab to be used in children in this age group.
But Pfizer must first secure an EUA from the US FDA for the shot to be used in children aged five to 11, Domingo said.
The FDA has approved Pfizer jabs to be administered to 12 to 17 years old, but the government has yet to start the program due to limited vaccine supply.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the 10,000 doses of COVID-19 jabs that were rendered useless were within the “acceptable limit.”
“There is no perfect vaccination program. If you compare the 10,000 doses with about 40 million doses (administered), it’s only a small percentage. We are within the acceptable range of wastage,” she said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on OneNews/TV 5 on Monday night.
Vergeire noted that the primary cause of vaccine wastage is fluctuating temperature due to power outage or unstable supply of electricity in some areas.
2.58 M vaccine doses
The United States has provided an additional 2.58 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to the Philippines.
The US partnered with COVAX to deliver 2,582,190 Pfizer jabs as part of its worldwide effort to help end the pandemic.
The vaccines, delivered in separate shipments on Sept. 19 and 20, were part of the 500 million doses of Pfizer the US is making available for distribution through COVAX Facility.
US embassy Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava joined Philippine government officials and other stakeholders in welcoming the arrival of the vaccines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The Philippines has so far administered 41,414,015 vaccines, with 22.8 million individuals receiving their first dose and a total of 18.5 million Filipinos now fully vaccinated.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos said they expect fully vaccinated individuals in the National Capital Region to reach 90 percent by Dec. 19. – Sheila Crisostomo, Pia Lee-Brago, Rudy Santos, Jose Rodel Clapano, Helen Flores