United States president Joe Biden was encouraged by US Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer to earmark five million Covid19 doses for the Philippines. The letter specifies “at least five million doses of Covid19 vaccines”, in light of both countries being key allies. It is part of the ongoing US initiative to donate their excess vaccines.
On May 31st, the Biden administration announced 60 million AstraZeneca doses would be released by the US as a commitment to support the global vaccination program, which is a crucial step in putting a stop to the Covid19 pandemic. AstraZeneca is not authorized in the United States, but it is in several countries including the Philippines.
In a letter dated June 1, Sen. Schumer–who belongs to the Democratic Party–wrote to Biden and highlighted the way both countries have connected history. He also emphasized the numerous contributions that Filipino-Americans have made not just to New York, but American society as a whole. A key highlight was those who serve as frontline healthcare workers displaying “selfless and professional efforts”.
Sen. Schumer also stressed the Philippines’ need for more vaccines for population protection. The letter also noted that there are over a million cases of Covid19 in the Philippines. Just last month, the cases started to rise again. The weekly average jumped from 4,900 cases on May 25 to at least 6,500 come May 31. He also took note of the shipment delay from Thailand’s Siam Bioscience of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses.
To date, around four million Filipinos (only 3.7% of the population) have gotten a vaccine dose. Only 1.2 million (1.1%) are fully vaccinated.