Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd on Thursday said areas with high cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections will get AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan to the Philippines.
This, after the 1.124 million doses AstraZeneca vaccine arrived on board an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight around 9 p.m. Thursday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Japanese Chargé d’affaires ad interim Masahiro Nakata led the turnover rites held at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
The donation was first announced by Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu last June 15.
Two weeks later, the governments of Japan and the Philippines entered into a formal agreement on the vaccine provision with the signing and exchange of notes between Nakata and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Garcia Imperial.
Duque said the AstraZeneca vaccines will contribute to the Philippines efforts of achieving population control.
In a statement, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the initiative is a clear testament to the deep-rooted bonds of friendship between 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.
In his speech, Duterte expressed gratitude to the Japanese government and Suga for donating AstraZeneca vaccines that will help the Philippines to have an “equitable” access to vaccines.
Duterte said the Philippines and Japan’s cooperation in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic indicates the two countries’ “deep friendship.”
“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.”
On July 6, the Japanese government signed the 687 million yen (approximately P308 million) grant aid to provide the Philippines’ much-needed cold chain transport and ancillaries for its vaccine rollout.
Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko signed and exchanged notes with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for the Japanese grant assistance called “Programme for Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support” to be implemented across 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 P308-million grant assistance is part of the one billion yen cold chain development assistance to the Philippines mentioned during the Japan-Philippines Summit Telephone Talk between Suga and Duterte last May.