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First batch of Janssen vaccines arrives in PH

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The first batch of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) single-dose Janssen Covid-19 vaccine that arrived here Friday is expected to inoculate more than 1.6 million individuals across the country, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

The 1,606,600 doses of the jabs are only the first half of a total of 3,213,200 doses donated to the Philippines by the United States government through the COVAX Facility.

“There will be another 1.6 million arriving imminently. So a total of 3.2 million doses donated by the US. This is part of the 80 million doses that the US is donating around the world this month,” US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law said during the vaccine’s arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

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Law noted that because the Philippines is the US’ “oldest treaty and ally in the region,” Washington DC wants to “do everything” to help Manila cope with the pandemic.

National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the remaining batch of the J&J vaccines will arrive at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“We're very happy because those regions that will be receiving this will be those threatened by the surge. And they are very delighted to receive the J&J. More or less, 3.2 million Filipinos will benefit from this,” Galvez said.

He said the J&J vaccine doses will be “equitably” distributed to all regions in the country, with a minimum of 100,000 doses for some regions.

“The UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) went to Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Sulu and they said that this is the best way that we can serve this last-mile area through the deployment of J&J. And we promise we will give them more or less 100,000,” Galvez said.

He said the regions that would receive more than 100,000 doses are the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

The priority for the vaccines, he said, will be senior citizens and those with comorbidities or the A2 and A3 categories, respectively.

“We will follow the COVAX guidance that we will give to the most vulnerable sector,” Galvez said.

He said J&J’s vaccine is a “game-changer” as aside from being a single-dose jab, it is a “second-generation” vaccine that has been tested for variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus diseases 2019 (Covid-19).

“Ito yung vaccine na talagang tinest sa mga variant. In fact, ang test nila is sa (This is the vaccine that has been tested against the variants. In fact, they tested it for the) UK variant, the Brazilian variant, and also the South African variant,” Galvez said.

He noted the importance of the speed at which J&J could give immunity against Covid-19, especially against the Delta variant.

“Napaka-importante because it's a race against time. Alam naman natin na yung J&J, kapag naitusok natin ito (This is very important because it is a race against time. We know that the J&J vaccine, once used), we will count only two weeks, then they are already fully protected,” Galvez said.

Aside from the 3.2 million doses donated by the US government, the Philippine government has already signed a deal with J&J for five million doses and is negotiating for another six million doses, he said.

To date, the country has received a total of 24,788,110 doses of various Covid-19 vaccines.

“Sa donation natin, lahat lahat (For donations given to us, all in all) including COVAX, it's 10 million already. For COVAX, if we will include the 1.6 million, it's already 10 million. And including the donation of China and Japan, we have already 12 million donations,” Galvez said.

Manufactured by J&J's Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, the vaccine is a one-shot viral vector with an efficacy rate of 66.3 percent in preventing Covid-19 infections and a “high efficacy” at preventing hospitalization and death in people who do get infected, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC warned that women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination.


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