The delayed arrival of the 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines was due to logistical concerns, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday, contrary to claims of government officials that it was because of supply issues.
According to WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, one of the bottlenecks is the delivery process because of the cold chain requirements and logistics handlers are having challenges in ensuring large shipments of vaccines across the world.
"My understanding is that the consignments are ready and just the logistics arrangements are being made so once we have a finalization and a confirmed itinerary for delivery we will share that information," Abeyasinghe said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
The Philippines was initially scheduled to receive the initial batch of AstraZeneca vaccines on Monday, March 1, through the WHO's COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, but this has since been delayed.
Over the weekend, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this was due to supply issues, while vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the supplies were being taken by Europe and other developing countries.
Abeyasinghe clarified, however, that bottlenecks are being seen in the delivery which is being done in coordination with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to bring vaccines to the Philippines.
"We're now seeing a second bottleneck and that is the delivery process because these vaccines need to be transported maintaining cold chain requirements and logistics handlers are having challenges in ensuring large shipments of vaccines across the world," he said.
The WHO representative said the earlier bottleneck was that manufacturers were not able to meet the targets as they could not produce the quantities that they anticipated early on.
"Although AstraZeneca was tentatively scheduled for Monday, this was not possible and we now believe that we will hear of a possible date (soon). I don't want to create any expectations 'til we have a firm date so when we know of a firm date which we believe that it will be very soon, we will announce that," he explained.—AOL, GMA News