MANILA – Excess AstraZeneca coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines acquired by the private sector are being donated to the transport sector, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion III said Friday.
Speaking at the sidelines of the arrival of the private sector-procured 661,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, Concepcion hailed the high vaccine acceptance level among private sector workers.
“In the private sector, many have been vaccinated and the acceptance level among employees is in the high 90s. We are happy because at first, this was really low. But now that almost everyone in the private sector wants to get vaccinated, we are also helping other groups, for instance, we give extra vaccine doses to the transport sector because they are also essential,” Concepcion said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The transport sector is among those hardest hit by the onset of the pandemic, as quarantine rules resulted in limited mobility and travel restrictions across the country to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
Currently, the government allows 50 percent capacity in public transport while drivers are encouraged to participate in the service contracting program of the Department of Transportation.
Since the start of the arrival of private sector-procured AstraZeneca jabs in July, Concepcion said workers from some 39 conglomerates have received their first dose of the vaccines.
He added that the second dose for these persons will start by the end of September and will run through October.
The prescribed interval between the first and second dose for those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine is 12 weeks.
Concepcion said the first batch of orders of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the private sector has already been completed.
He added that the second batch of vaccines ordered by the private sector will come in the last months of 2021 up to January next year.
“Around 80 percent of those in hospitals are unvaccinated. This is our biggest weapon against Covid-19. If our hospitals are overwhelmed, we will have a lockdown. We want to prevent our citizens from being confined in hospitals. We are also encouraging more mobility for vaccinated persons because somebody has to spend money for our economy to be functional,” he added.
Concepcion said forcing both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons to stay at home will spell disaster for the economy which might result in bigger problems.
“If the economy will not move, where do we get the money to buy vaccines, do testing, purchase medicines for our people. This pandemic is expected to stay for a long time. We cannot kill the economy because local government units and the national government need taxes for these expenses. We cannot just borrow money all the time. We need to have a sustainable model for this,” he added.
Concepcion said if AstraZeneca can deliver a higher number of vaccine doses in the coming weeks, their immunization targets will be accomplished much earlier.
Aside from workers, among other beneficiaries of the private sector’s vaccine program include their spouses and other dependents.
Based on the latest data from the National Task Force against Covid-19 as of Sept. 15, the country has received a total of 57,547,610 vaccine doses from various manufacturers — over 36 million doses were procured by the national government
The country has also breached the 40 million mark in terms of Covid-19 jabs administered, with 40,030,388 shots given as of Sept. 15.
This number is composed of 17,675,959 fully-vaccinated individuals and 22,354,429 who have received the first dose.
Over 39 million doses are expected to arrive this September, with 5,647,020 doses already delivered to the country from Sept. 1 to 15.(PNA)