Ambassador Reiffenstuel reiterates commitment to international solidarity and cooperation in times of crisis
By Alithea De Jesus
Photos courtesy of German Embassy Manila
The German government has proven its sincere commitment to the Philippines and Filipinos in practically all the endeavors that would help our country rebound in this time of coronavirus pandemic.
With the latest batch of Germany’s vaccine donation that arrived in the Philippines today, December 15, 2021, this comprises nearly 3.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna) from the ACT-A/COVAX program, the overall number of vaccines donated by Germany to the Philippines now amounts to over 5.3 million doses. The first two rounds of vaccine donations to the Philippines arrived in Manila last October 15, with 844,800 of AstraZenica vaccine doses, and last November 9 with 793,300 vaccine doses of the same brand.
Unknown to many, Germany is one of the top donors of COVID-19 vaccines in the world, supplying a total of more than 175 million doses. The Philippines is among the prime destinations for these donations. On the whole, the EU member-states are the largest donor of vaccines to the Philippines.
Germany’s support for the Philippines’ COVID response
Apart from the enormous financial support for COVAX and the donation of vaccines, Germany also supports the overall COVID response efforts – in the Philippines, this is done mainly through funding programs of international organizations. Last year, the International Organisation for Migration IOM has received over $2.3 million (PHP 116 million) for COVID response programs in the Philippines including for the procurement of ambulances, medical equipment, and solar generators. In 2021, the German government has continued to support IOM’s global efforts in its fight against COVID-19 through funding amounting to 12.4 million (PHP 624 million). The funding supports the implementation of IOM’s Strategic Response and Recovery Plan for COVID-19 in some of the hardest hit countries including the Philippines.
From these funds, an estimated $1.4 million (PHP 70.5 million) are being used to improve the COVID-19 response and prevention capacity of frontline workers such as health practitioners and Philippine Coast Guards. Key equipment is being provided for them to deliver crucial services such as COVID-19 testing, quarantine, surveillance, vaccines, and treatment, to the most vulnerable populations including migrants, Filipino returnees and OFWs, internally displaced persons and communities in remote areas of the country. The next steps include supplying ambulances for the safe and prompt transfer of patients, cold chain vehicles for proper transport of specimens and vaccines, freezers for proper storage of specimens and vaccines and other medical equipment. IOM has also used the German funds for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Philippine Coast Guard to protect themselves from COVID-19 during specimen collection and vaccination exercises, as well as ICT equipment for effective monitoring of mobility at Ports of Entry.
What is ACT-A / COVAX?
The ACT-Accelerator, a global World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, was co-founded by Germany and plays a central role in the COVID-19 crisis response. It aims to ensure fair and equitable global access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.
Germany is a top donor to the ACT-A initiative, currently providing $2.5 billion (PHP 126 billion), of which $1.84 billion (PHP 93 billion) is funding the COVAX vaccine pillar in particular. Overall, about 20 percent of all COVAX contributions come from Germany, a third from the EU.
How many vaccine doses has Germany donated?
Germany aims to donate a total of 175 million vaccine doses, 100 million of which will be donated by the end of 2021, mostly through COVAX. This puts Germany in second place in absolute terms as the largest donor of vaccines worldwide, also in terms of deliveries already made.
The Philippines largely benefits from Germany’s commitment – of the German vaccine donations worldwide, more than 11 million vaccine doses are earmarked for the Philippines. So far, 1.7 million doses had been previously delivered in October and November.
Upon welcoming the arrival of the Moderna vaccines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday, German Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel underscored: “With today’s arrival of another nearly 3.7 million vaccine doses (Moderna), we live up to our commitment to international solidarity and cooperation also in times of crisis. In these challenging times, we regard it important to contribute to the Philippine efforts for a fast and sustainable recovery. We trust that the vaccines that arrived today will be used for the urgently necessary vaccinations and boosters for health care workers, frontliners and other priority groups, as well as for minors who need to be protected in the context of the reopening of schools and return to face-to-face classes.”
Why does Germany do it?
Our goal is that everyone in the world can have access to the required vaccine – the vaccine against COVID-19 must be a common global good.
COVAX is our multilateral and inclusive response to COVID-19. The distribution of vaccines is based solely on the need of the people for vaccination and must not be politicized.
Everyone has the right to a vaccine that has been tested safely, thoroughly, and transparently. For COVAX, therefore, approval by the WHO is a condition for the use of a vaccine.