The delay in the delivery of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines was due to logistics concerns, not supply problems, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) representative on Tuesday.
WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said one of the main challenges in the delivery process was the cold chain requirements and logistics handlers’ difficulty in ensuring large vaccine shipments worldwide.
“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.
According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, it is possible that the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines in the country will be delayed by one week.
Duque said he will ask UNICEF, one of the constituents of the COVAX facility, to explain why the delivery of the vaccines has been completed.
AstraZeneca delivery delay due to logistics, not supply problem – WHO
“Sinasabi nila na hindi raw makakarating dahil may supply problems daw. Ako naman, inatasan ko ang DOH na kausapin ang UNICEF at sila mismo ang magpaliwanag kung ano nga ba ang nangyari, kung bakit mukhang naantala na naman ang pagdating ng AstraZeneca vaccines via the COVAX facility,” Duque told TeleRadyo on Monday.
However, Abeyasinghe clarified that bottlenecks are being seen in the AstraZeneca vaccine delivery which would be done in partnership with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
“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.
“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,” the WHO official explained.