dpa/GNA – A senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday cautioned the Philippines against ignoring its priority list for the Covid-19 vaccine, saying the country could lose supply from the global vaccine alliance.
Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO country representative, said the vaccines from the COVAX facility are intended to protect the most vulnerable groups, such as health workers, the elderly, and people with comorbidities.
“If we want to ensure that we continue to access the vaccines from the COVAX facility, we need to demonstrate that we can follow this prioritization,” he said in an online briefing.
He issued the statement amid reports that some government officials were getting themselves vaccinated ahead of health workers.
COVAX is a WHO-led initiative that seeks to ensure equitable access to vaccines, especially for poorer nations.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said his office will look into reports that people not on the priority list were able to get inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, which arrived in the Philippines earlier in the week.
Later Thursday, the Philippines received more than 480,000 AstraZeneca doses under the COVAX scheme, which plans to donate up to 5.6 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca in the first quarter of the year.
The Philippines’ Covid-19 caseload totalled 584,667 as of Thursday, with the Department of Health reporting 2,452 additional coronavirus infections. The death toll was up 15 to 12,404, it added.
President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to get vaccinated amid surveys showing that more were hesitant due to questions over the vaccine’s safety.
“Please get vaccinated against Covid-19 and be the government’s partner in preventing further spread of the disease,” he said during the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines.
“I encourage you to get vaccinated at the soonest possible time. These vaccines are safe, and they are the key to reopening our society,” he added.