Better late than never, says Leni of vaccine arrival


    VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday welcomed the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in the country last week, saying while it came later than expected, it still gave Filipinos a glimmer of hope.

    “Matagal na panahon na parang impatient tayo kasi nakikita natin iyong ibang mga bansa nagpapaturok na, nag-rollout na ng vaccination, pero at last dumating na dito sa atin (We’ve been waiting for some time, growing impatient as we see other countries rolling out their vaccination program, but at least it’s now here),” Robredo said in her weekly radio program on RMN.

    The national vaccination program kicked off on Monday last week, a day after the arrival of 600,000 doses of vaccines made by the Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. The shipment is a donation of the Chinese government. On Thursday last week, almost 500,000 doses of vaccines manufactured by the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca PLC also arrived. It is the Philippines’ second batch of vaccine supply and the first sent by the COVAX Facility, a global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access of countries to COVID-19 vaccines. More vaccines are expected.

    The Vice President said the arrival of the vaccines “gives us a certain degree of hope (that the the pandemic will eventually end).”

    “Kaunti pa lang iyong dumadating, pero at least nagsimula na. Kahit paano… nakaka-kampante na din iyon (Only a few vials have arrived but at least the vaccination program has already started. Somehow, it calms us down),” she said.

    China is sending another 400,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, CoronaVac, according to President Duterte.

    On AstraZeneca vaccines, up to 4.5 million doses are expected to arrive before the end of May, in batches in addition to other vaccines slated to be delivered to the country.

    The supply from COVAX is expected to cover at least 20 percent of the country’s population, while prioritizing medical front-liners, the elderly, and those with comorbidities.

    Last Friday, Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said 20 million doses of Moderna vaccines could arrive in the Philippines either by end of May or early June.
    Robredo cautioned the public against complacency as COVID-19 infections continued to rise.

    The Department of Health yesterday reported 3,276 cases, the third straight day that the daily total surpassed 3,000.

    Robredo said there should be no room for complacency “even though we now have the vaccine.” She said the rollout cannot be done in an instant and so the public should not relax in observing the health protocols.

    At the House, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said the city government now has a comprehensive vaccination plan which includes 300,000 senior citizens, 20,000 persons with disabilities (PWDs) and 703,000 indigents.

    Vargas, who chairs the House committee on social service, said under the city government’s “ProtekTodo Plan,” over 1,047,027 individuals have been placed and registered in the priority list.

    Almost 3,300 government health workers and some 18,300 private health workers are also on the top of those to be vaccinated in line with the national government’s priorities along with 1,410 government and Barangay officials and 20,000 law enforcers.