Philippines gets 1.6M more J&J vaccine doses from US

The Philippines received a second shipment of 1.6 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine, bringing the total number of doses donated by the US government so far to 3.2 million. 

The arrival of the doses comes as the country again faced lack of supply, leading some local governments to postpone or halt vaccinations. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said at least 100,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine will be distributed to each region in the country. 

The shipment arrived past 4 pm on Saturday, July 17, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Another 1.6 million doses were shipped separately and arrived in the Philippines the day before. 

J&J’s vaccine is now the sixth vaccine to become widely available in the Philippines’ vaccine drive against the virus. 

The US' donation of J&J vaccines will be the first of at least two shipments expected. The US earlier announced the Philippines is included in a list of countries which will directly receive vaccine doses from the US government, aside from additional donations shipped through the COVAX global vaccine sharing facility. 

The US-donated vaccines are part of the Biden administration's support for COVAX, as well as its support for countries grappling with the pandemic with little access to supply.  President Joe Biden earlier committed to share 80 million American-made vaccines around the world as part Washington's response to the health crisis and as concerns grow over the disparity in vaccinations seen in advanced countries and the developing world.

Unlike other vaccines, the J&J vaccine requires only one dose, making it easier for countries to roll out the jab. J&J's one-shot vaccine does not have to be refrigerated as some others do, potentially easing its distribution.

J&J recently announced that its single-dose vaccine showed strong promise against the Delta variant and other emerging strains, and also provided durable protection against the infection more broadly.

Much of Asia is grappling with spikes in COVID-19 cases amid new variants and vaccine supply constraints. The World Bank on Thursday, July 15, trimmed its economic growth forecasts for the East Asia and Pacific region, excluding China, due to the pandemic.

The vaccines are expected to boost the Philippines’ vaccination efforts as it races against variants like Delta, after 11 local cases were reported.

Four months since the Philippines launched its immunization drive on March 1, around 9% of the country's population have received the first of two doses. Those who are fully vaccinated represent around 3.53% of the population, as of July 13. 

Aside from the US, the Philippines has received vaccines donated from Japan and China. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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