Philippines begins delayed Covid-19 vaccination drive

The director of the Philippines’ top public hospital on Monday became the first person to receive a Covid-19 vaccine shot in the country as the government finally rolled out its vaccination drive following delays.

Gerardo Legaspi, director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), got inoculated with the vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac, which was donated by the Chinese government.

On Sunday, 600,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived in Manila.

But the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration does not recommend it to front-line workers and carers due to its lower efficacy rate.

The UP Workers Union-Manila, in which the hospital workers are organized, urged the hospital administration and the government “to uphold the right of the health workers to choose the kind of vaccine they prefer” for their inoculation.

“We also call for transparent and hastened procedures related to the vaccination plan of the government,” it said in a statement on Monday.

Only 10 percent of Philippine General Hospital health workers are willing to get vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, while 94 per cent of them want to get inoculated using the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has a higher efficacy rate.

The delivery of the vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca, which was supposed to arrive Monday, has been delayed by another week due to supply problems, according to Philippine officials.

A total of 576,352 are infected in the Philippines, with the Department of Health reporting 2,113 additional coronavirus infections on Sunday. The death toll was at 12,318, it added. DPA