The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, June 15, sent more COVID-19 vaccines to regions in Mindanao that saw surges in new coronavirus infections in response to congressmen’s complaints that Metro Manila was receiving more than the southern regions.
Unknown to the congressmen, however, at least one Mindanao region, Davao, has so far received the lion’s share of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this month.
The Davao region received over 210,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in two days last week. In contrast, at least two other Mindanao regions received over 30,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses each on Tuesday morning, a day after congressmen lambasted Presidential Adviser and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for “neglecting” Mindanao.
The region received 105,300 doses on Thursday, June 10, and another 105,300 doses the following day. It also received 29,500 Pfizer-BioNTech doses in May, reported Sunstar-Davao.
The same report quoted City Health Officer Dr. Ashley Lopez as saying Davao City has so far received 210,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine sent to the region.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, representative of Cagayan de Oro’s 2nd District, said the DOH significantly increased its vaccine allocation to Cagayan de Oro this week as a response to the June 14 meeting of the House Committee on Mindanao Affairs where he and other congressmen accused Galvez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and the IATF of favoring Metro Manila in the distribution of vaccines.
Emiliano Galban Jr., a DOH spokesman for Northern Mindanao, said 56,100 vaccines were sent to Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, and these were to be distributed throughout the region.
“They used to give as only as much as 5,000 doses of the vaccine. I am glad that they have now increased our allocation,” Rodriguez told Rappler.
The bulk or 35,100 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses were intended for Cagayan de Oro, which registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the region, while the remaining 21,000 vaccines from Sinovac would be distributed to different provinces and cities in Northern Mindanao.
The Zamboanga Peninsula also received an increased number of vaccine doses on Tuesday, said Dr. Augusto Manolo Alpichi, DOH assistant director for Region 9.
Alpichi said 31,500 doses were Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines while 28,000 doses were from Sinovac. Of the 59,500 vaccine doses, 31,500 were set aside for Zamboanga City, which has remained under a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) classification like Davao and Cagayan de Oro because of its surging number of COVID-19 cases.
Rodriguez, who accused the IATF of “criminal neglect” of Mindanao on Monday, said, “I am happy with the increase, but I am still angry at Galvez, Duque, and Nograles for not responding to earlier calls for them to send more vaccines to Mindanao. They could have prevented a lot of people from dying.” – Rappler.com