WHO: Arrival of vaccines in PH ‘a powerful step’ towards economic recovery, normalcy
MANILA, Philippines — The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines is “a powerful step” towards the country’s gradual return of day-to-day activities and economic revival, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe has said.
Abeyasinghe made the remark as he welcomed the arrival of the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines developed by British-Swede drugmaker AstraZeneca.
The aircraft carrying the 487,200 vaccine doses from the WHO-led COVAX facility landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on Thursday night.
“We all welcome the addition of vaccines to the available tools in the country, which, when used to scale, will contribute to the gradual return of day-to-day activities and economic revival in the country,” Abeyasinghe said in a statement.
“The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines is a powerful step in that direction,” he added.
Abeyasinghe said that the vaccines coming through COVAX will help protect up to 20 percent of the Philippine population this year, including healthcare workers, other frontline workers, and the elderly who are most at risk amid the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to protect people from severe disease and death. Used together with public health measures currently in place—wearing of masks, physical distancing, avoiding large groups, and washing hands frequently—will help mitigate the effects of the pandemic by reducing deaths and severe disease,” Abeyasinghe said.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) likewise welcomed the arrival of the vaccines.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has become a child rights crisis which we need to end as fast as possible,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said.
“The longer the pandemic goes on, the more intense the impact on people, especially on children’s health, rights to education, nutrition, protection and mental health. COVID019 vaccination should be part of a larger strategy to strengthen health systems for children and families in the Philippines for the longer term,” Dendevnorov added.
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