WHO: Next batch of vaccines via COVAX may be further reduced due to supply shortage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — The expected vaccine supply from British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca via the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility may be delayed even more and further reduced due to a supply shortage.

WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said during a Palace briefing on Monday that the expected supply of over 900,000 doses may be reduced until vaccine production can accommodate the demand from other countries. The second batch of doses was supposed to arrive between March 24 and 26.

"Because of the global vaccine shortage, there will be a delay. The agreed quantity which was 920,000 vaccine doses will come but because of the shortage, we have been informed that we should expect a reduced quantity which may come in the next two weeks," Abeyasinghe said.

He noted that once production picks up, the COVAX facility may eventually provide vaccines to cover 20% of the Philippine population, including those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

"We are still committed to do that. We believe that if production picks up in the late second to fourth quarter, we will be able to deliver," he said.

According to Abeyasinghe, vaccine manufacturers from developed countries have imposed restrictions to prioritize the population in their own territory due to the COVID-19 surge, which led to delayed and reduced shipments.

So far, the Philippines has already received 525,600 AstraZeneca doses, a brand that can be given to senior citizens. China's Sinovac doses were already administered to some healthcare workers in early March.

Over 9.4 million senior citizens and 14 million people with comorbidities are on the priority list for inoculation, apart from the 1.7 million healthcare workers who are first in line.

The government's April 3 data showed that 795,320 Filipinos have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. Of this number, 765,871 are healthcare workers, 16,121 are senior citizens, while 13,288 are individuals with comorbidities.

The government is aiming to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos by yearend.

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