'Vaccine for the world': How AstraZeneca is helping in the global fight against COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 27) — With COVID-19 cases still rising even in countries with significant vaccination progress, AstraZeneca remains steadfast in its commitment to creating a "vaccine for the world."

"When we started this journey, the mission was very clear: We want to help the world recover from this pandemic and we want to make our vaccine a vaccine for the world," AstraZeneca Philippines country president Lotis Ramin told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

Over 1 billion doses of the British-Swedish manufacturer's COVID-19 vaccine have so far been delivered to more than 170 countries to date, according to Ramin, who said two-thirds of these are low- and middle-income nations.

Among these countries is the Philippines, which has already received 8 million doses from AstraZeneca. It will be getting over 14 million "until the early part of 2022" in line with tripartite deals signed previously, she added.

AstraZeneca doses are the second most numerous in the country's total vaccine supply, next to Chinese manufacturer Sinovac's CoronaVac shots.

With vaccination touted as the main way to combat the spread of COVID-19 - now driven by coronavirus variants like the highly contagious Delta - AstraZeneca is making sure its vaccine can put up a fight.

Both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine provide "as much as 92% reduction of severe disease and hospitalization," according to Ramin.

Even the head of the country's vaccine expert panel reported the British-Swedish vaccine brand offers the longest protection against severe infection compared to other shots: one year. 

Booster shots, mix-and-match up to govt policy

Ramin also emphasized that mixing and matching the AstraZeneca vaccine with other brands is a decision for public health officials to make.

While the Philippines still hasn't allowed mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization earlier this week specified only one condition which permits it: AstraZeneca vaccinees may only receive a Pfizer shot for their second dose if supply is unavailable. 

The Department of Health earlier recommended to delay this method as they wait for more evidence to support it. There are plans to conduct clinical trials on the mix-and-match of COVID-19 vaccines, but no date has been announced yet.

AstraZeneca also leaves it to health authorities to decide on the administering of booster shots - something the country's experts have recommended against, instead pushing for the vaccination of as many people as possible in a race against the more contagious variants.

"Right now, our main priority is to support the ongoing vaccination. And that means fulfilling our current agreements," referring to tripartite deals among the national government, local government units, and the private sector.