Australia is pledging $500 million to ensure an accessible rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Indo-Pacific which includes the Philippines.
Steven Robinson, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines has outlined where the funds will be focused.
“This is for the purchase of vaccines but also for the provision of technical assistance in the rolling out of vaccines.”
The Philippines, which has recorded over half a million coronavirus cases in total, has received 60,000 doses from China’s Sinovac on Sunday 28 February with inoculations administered to frontline healthcare workers from Monday 1 March.
Clinical trials in Brazil have shown that the Sinovac vaccine has a efficacy of 50.4 percent, which meets the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) needed efficacy of 50 percent.
However, there are anxieties surrounding the Sinovac vaccine due to its previous claim that it has an efficacy rate of 78 percent, and the clinical trials claiming its effectiveness being smaller than that of other vaccines.
The Philippines currently has plans to purchase 148 million vaccines, with the country aiming to have inoculated its population of more than 100 million by 2023.
Ambassador Robinson believes that vaccine distribution will be a critical issue for the Philippines.
“Because the country has such a diverse geographical spread, more than 7,000 islands so you’ve got to move the vaccines to ensure everyone is vaccinated and then there’s an education campaign to try to get people to accept the vaccine.”
Cebu, the Philippines’ second-largest city will receive aid in line with government objectives that will not only promote health but also economic recovery.
The delivery of AstraZeneca doses to the Philippines through COVAX, WHO’s effort to make access to vaccines “fair and equitable” has been postponed, with the Philippines having expected to receive it by the end of February.
Australia has made a financial commitment to provide $80 million to support the COVAX facility which will aid 94 lower-income countries, including the Philippines.
Feature image from Ambassador Robinson’s Twitter account.
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