NEW SHIPMENT. A total of 2.5 million doses of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on Friday (Oct. 1, 2021). The government-procured jabs raised the country's total doses received to 74,707,940. (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)

MANILA – The first day of October saw nearly four million doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines arrive in two shipments, both government-procured and through the COVAX Facility.

United States Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Heather Variava and World Health Organization (WHO) Philippine representative, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, welcomed 883,350 doses of the Pfizer vaccine donated by the American government which arrived via Emirates Flight EK332 around 4:15 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Friday.

About one hour and a half later, 2.5 million doses of the Sinovac jab were delivered by Philippine Airlines Flight PR359.

In the next couple of days, Variava said the US will send 5.5 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine that will land in the cities of Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

“The United States is really happy to provide not only to Metro Manila but to other parts of the Philippines,” she said in an interview.

She also lauded the plan by the Philippine government to start the vaccination of younger people.

“I am pleased to hear that pretty soon, the Philippines will start vaccinating young people, adolescents. We’ve been vaccinating adolescents in the United States since about May and it’s been very successful and very safe. I think it’s just further steps along the way of getting all of the Philippines fully vaccinated against the disease,” she said.

Abeyasinghe said the pilot implementation of the vaccination for younger residents is welcome but the prioritization of vulnerable sectors should still be followed.

“We also need to bear in mind that although the case numbers are declining, there is still a big, vulnerable population of elderly and with comorbidities who need to be protected so as we adjust quarantine positions and calibrate. We recognize the need to bring back economic activity but the optimum use of the vaccines will be to increase the coverage among groups. This way we can bring back the sustainable opening of the economy,“ he said in another interview.

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who joined Variava and Abeyasinghe, said President Rodrigo Duterte is thankful to the US for the donations.

“We are very, very happy that this October, naipangako natin na (we promised that) we will have at least 100 million doses in our inventory,” Galvez said.

The latest shipment will be sent to Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, and Davao Region.

To date, the country has already received 74,707,940 doses, with 45,601,096 already administered. (PNA)