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The country's fight against the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and the threat of the newly discovered Omicron variant received a boost with the arrival of 547,100 more doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Poland, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

The life-saving jabs, flown in by Emirates Flight EK 332 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Sunday afternoon, followed three tranches of AstraZeneca deliveries from the British government, donated through the COVAX Facility.

It marked the first time that Poland provided free Covid-19 vaccines to the country since the onset of the pandemic last year.

The delivery came a day before the government kicks off its “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” or the three-day nationwide vaccination drive.

A second leg is set from December 15 to 17.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer, said local government units (LGUs) are very cooperative, with at least 2,400 representatives atending a webinar on Thursday.

He thanked the Polish government and said the doses will go a long way in helping the country contain Covid-19.

Bibigyan natin ‘yan kahit sino may gusto (We will give the vaccines) to different LGUs that will ask for AstraZeneca to be used either for booster, first dose or second dose. Pwede ‘yan, flexible ‘yan, but mostly reserve natin ito once kailanganin ng LGU na mauubusan (We will provide vaccines, the system is flexible, but most will be reserved in case LGUs run out of supplies),” Galvez said in an interview.

Galvez said the country must ramp up its vaccination efforts as some nations, especially in Europe, are experiencing yet another surge in cases.

Nanawagan kami sa lahat ng hindi pa bakunado, magpabakuna na tayo. Palapit na ng palapit ang araw. Nandito na ang Omicron. Baka mabigla tayo (I call on the unvaccinated to avail of vaccines. The Omicron variant is here. Let’s not wait for it to attack us),” he stressed.

The Philippines has so far received 142,153,340 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, both procured and donated, since February.

As of November 27, a total of 81,017,994 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide while 35,557,409 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated, or 46.10 percent of the country’s target population of 77.1 million.

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya reminded LGUs that inoculation sites cannot be used for political purposes.

In a statement on Sunday, he said tarpaulins bearing the names of politicians or candidates are strictly prohibited.

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