Logistics, supply access problems hamper delivery of COVAX-supplied vaccines to PH – WHO official

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2)— Logistical challenges and supply access problems have hampered the scheduled Philippine delivery of the coronavirus vaccines supplied by the COVAX facility, an official from the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the requirements for the country to secure the Pfizer and AstraZeneca doses are now complete, but noted that roadblocks in the global market have been delaying the much-awaited shipments.

For one, the country was supposed to receive 525,600 doses of British drugmaker AstraZeneca on Monday, but the Health Department said the parcel will be delayed amid global supply shortage.

Abeyasinghe pointed to logistical concerns as a reason for the delay.

“My understanding is that the consignments are ready and just the logistics arrangements are being made. So once we have a finalization and confirmed itinerary for delivery, we will share that information,” Abeyasinghe told The Source.

Aside from AstraZeneca, the country is also slated to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine – which government officials earlier expected to arrive by February. The delivery initially got delayed due to the absence of an indemnification deal between the parties.

The WHO official said the Philippines has already complied with the requirements, but bared that access to Pfizer supply has been a challenge.

“We are also informed that all requirements that the Philippines was required to meet with regards to Pfizer vaccines have been completed, but access to Pfizer vaccines might be delayed somewhat,” Abeyasinghe added.

Abeyasinghe, however, still expressed hope the country may receive the vaccines “before the end of the month.”

The country is expected to receive millions of doses of vaccines this year from the COVAX facility, an initiative led by the WHO, along with the vaccine alliance Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which seeks to provide participating countries equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.

The Philippines officially kicked off its inoculation drive against COVID-19 on Monday, with doses of the China-donated Sinovac vaccine administered to frontliners and other personnel.

Meanwhile, Abeyasinghe said the WHO expects to get large bulks of coronavirus vaccines in the latter part of the year once more manufacturers are granted emergency use listing.