DOH: High risk Covid-19 areas to receive AstraZen vax donated by Japan

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MANILA –Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced on Thursday, that locations with a high prevalence of Covid-19 infections will get AstraZeneca vaccines donated to the Philippines by Japan.

This comes after 1.124 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived on board an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport about 9 p.m. Thursday.

The ceremony was led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Japanese Chargé d’affaires ad interim Masahiro Nakata at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

The donation was first announced by Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu last June 15.

With the signing and exchange of notes between Nakata and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Garcia Imperial two weeks later, the governments of Japan and the Philippines entered into a formal agreement on the vaccination supply.

According to Duque, the AstraZeneca vaccines will help the Philippines achieve population control.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a statement that the initiative is a clear tribute to the deep friendship of Japan and the Philippines.

“As we commemorate this year the 65th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-Philippines diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership, Japan will work to surpass the unprecedented challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, in unison with the Philippines, a true friend closer than a brother,” Suga said.

Duterte thanked the Japanese government and Suga in his speech for giving AstraZeneca vaccines, which will allow the Philippines have “equitable” access to vaccines.

According to Duterte, the Philippines and Japan’s collaboration in combating the Covid-19 outbreak demonstrates the two countries’ “deep relationship”.

“Japan continues to be our strong partner in various development programs,” he said. “Again, I express my heartfelt gratitude to Japan for all of the assistance you have extended to our country during these challenging times.”

The Japanese government signed on July 6, a grant aid agreement worth 687 million yen (about PHP308 million) to supply the Philippines with much-needed cold chain transport and ancillaries for vaccine distribution.

Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko signed and exchanged notes with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for the Japanese grant aid known as the “Programme for Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support,” which will be implemented throughout the country.

“With the distribution of vaccines to the provinces a top priority of the Philippine Government, the cold chain facility system will boost efforts in the nation’s vaccination program. This will not only ensure safe and efficient vaccines delivery but also preserving the integrity and quality of vaccines,” the Japanese Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

The grant support of PHP308 million is part of the one billion yen cold chain development aid to the Philippines discussed during the Japan-Philippines Summit Telephone Talk between Suga and Duterte in May.