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Achieving 70% COVID-19 Immunization Coverage by mid-2022

January 1, 2022 6:17 p.m.

The Independent Allocation of Vaccines Group (IAVG) has issued a set of recommendations to make the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines more equitable and more effective.

The group was established a year ago, to validate and assess vaccine allocations recommended by WHO’s and Gavi’s Joint Allocation Taskforce (JAT) of COVAX. Since then, much has changed. COVAX was envisioned to be the world’s primary distributor of COVID-19 vaccines, with IAVG serving as an independent referee for needs-based allocations. But rich nations largely sidestepped COVAX, hoarding doses for their own populations and cutting deals directly with low- and middle-income countries. This has made subsequent allocation decisions even more challenging.

The IAVG is concerned that the primary priority use of available vaccines is not consistent with the goals outlined in the Strategy to Achieve Global COVID-19 Vaccination by Mid-2022 in October 2021.  The group also notes that it has validated the allocation of only 730 million of the estimated 8 billion doses of vaccine that have been administered globally, which is less than 10%.  The rapid emergence of the Omicron variant is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat posed by the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforces the critical need to achieve high levels of immunization coverage in all countries, including in highly vulnerable populations, in a timely manner. 

The IAVG is therefore calling for:

Achievement of 70% coverage with COVID-19 vaccines in all countries as a global imperative. 

As the overall vaccine supply to COVAX is anticipated to continue to grow substantially next year, COVAX will have a greater opportunity to contribute to achieving this goal. Manufacturers, vaccine-producing and high-coverage countries must prioritize vaccine equity and transparency, including the sharing of information about manufacturing capacity and supply schedules with COVAX, as well as vaccine access plans. 

All countries to work with COVAX with considerable urgency to optimize the strategic use of the growing vaccine supply. 

This means that high-coverage countries will need to establish complementary, “dual-track” approaches that consider both domestic and international goals.

Greater attention must be paid to who is being immunized. Equity must remain the overarching principle, and priority must be given in all countries to ensuring that the primary series is offered first and foremost to all adults and adolescents, in the step-wise manner recommended by the WHO, given that a high proportion of these populations still require primary immunization. However, as more is known about the required vaccination response in the face of Omicron, the need for booster doses and need to immunize children, the COVAX vaccine allocation decisions must consider these recommendations. 

Given the global health and epidemiologic consequences of failing to immunize vulnerable populations, including those in humanitarian settings, the IAVG recommends that COVAX continue to work with all manufacturers and countries to immediately increase the availability and uptake of vaccines in these populations. 

All countries to have a steady, predictable supply of COVID-19 vaccines, which meet the unique needs of each country. Attention must be paid to addressing prohibitive absorptive challenges in countries that request support

This may include support for vaccine storage, distribution, administration and/or record-keeping, which may in part be due to competing health and immunization crises [3]. It will be important to have close collaboration between all COVAX partners, donors, and participants. 

In order to increase demand for COVID-19 vaccines, ongoing, concerted global, national and local leadership is required to address vaccine misinformation. 

Background

The initial COVAX targets were to achieve 3% coverage, and then 20% vaccine coverage through COVAX-secured doses by the end of 2021.  These targets were then expanded globally, when WHO released the Strategy to Achieve Global COVID-19 Vaccination by Mid-2022 in October 2021. The new global target is 40% total population coverage by the end of 2021, and 70% total population coverage by mid-2022. However, these figures were from all country sources of supply, not solely from COVAX. COVAX would nonetheless contribute as much as possible to efforts to reach this coverage level in a fair and equitable manner.

None of these targets have been met. Ninety-eight countries have not vaccinated 40% of their population.  An estimated 1.4 billion eligible people  need to be urgently immunized, many of whom are in the highest risk groups for death and serious illness. These gaps have been most pronounced in low-and lower-middle income countries (LICs and LMICs), with 34 out of 89 Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) participants,representing the countries that are most dependent on COVAX to access COVID-19 vaccines, not achieving the 40% target. The main reason for this has been the severe vaccine supply constraints to COVAX, which persisted until the last quarter of 2021. In the forthcoming months, larger volumes of vaccine are expected to become available, but in most cases the increase  in volumes will  create challenges in absorption capacity in resource-poor settings. This includes the capacity to receive, store, distribute, administer (due, for example, the lack of trained health personnel or vaccination centers), and to record vaccine use, including wastage.

Another hurdle in achieving the target of 70% total population coverage in all countries by mid-2022 will be demand limits arising from widespread misinformation and its resulting vaccine hesitancy.

Challenges

The COVAX portion of the global supply – The original goal of COVAX was to achieve fair and equitable vaccine access across all 162  current Facility participants, and the initial role of the IAVG was to validate vaccine allocation decision (VAD) proposals that included all participants. Many high-income countries (HICs) entered into direct contractual arrangements with vaccine suppliers, bypassing the COVAX mechanism, and pharmaceutical companies did not prioritize and deliver according to their contractual obligations with COVAX, seriously reducing its supply and making it highly unpredictable. Moreover, high-coverage countries began donating directly to their low-coverage and low-income counterparts, bypassing COVAX. Indemnity and liability-related conditions are added barriers to the vaccine access for the most vulnerable populations. The IAVG has validated the allocation of only 730 million of the estimated 8 billion doses of vaccine that have been administered globally, which is less than 10%.

Additionally, many of the donated doses channeled through COVAX have been earmarked for specific countries, compounding the challenge of achieving the goal of fair and equitable access among lower income countries. 

With respect to vaccine allocation, the IAVG recommended and acknowledges that, where feasible, the limited COVAX supply has recently been dedicated to those countries with low estimated total population coverage which are likely relying solely on COVAX for access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

Unpredictable supply to COVAX  – 1) Procured doses – While those involved in vaccine allocation through COVAX have done their best to direct and redirect available doses, supply unpredictability has strained the system, frustrated participating countries and undermined the allocation decisions of the IAVG. Not all expected doses from COVAX advanced purchase agreements (APAs) have been honoured by vaccine producers according to contractual obligations. 2) Donated volumes – Similarly, promised donations by high-income countries have often been late to materialize or unpredictable. Unexpected additional vaccine allocation rounds have been undertaken after sudden announcements of vaccine availability through donations to COVAX. Worsening the challenge, these sudden donations have often included vaccines with brief expiry windows. These last-minute scrambles, a part massively increasing transaction costs, added considerable stress to already severely resource-strapped countries coping with many competing health and humanitarian crises, straining participants’ ability to plan for the receipt and use of their allocated vaccines. Beyond logistics, the last-minute deliveries undermined countries’ efforts to inform the general public about the vaccines and the communication needed to counteract the misinformation spread by social media. 

This way of doing business is not acceptable and needs to end. 

Across country and in-country inequity – The Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy clearly outlines the step-by-step process needed to achieve the immediate goal of minimizing deaths, severe disease and overall disease burden, and reducing the risk of new variants. Older adults and high-risk populations, all adults, and adolescents have been prioritized in a step-wise manner, while the broader scope of vaccine-use recommendations is still under consideration. For instance, 15 times as many booster doses are currently being administered globally as are primary doses in LICs. In October, the WHO and many other concerned partners noted that data from 119 countries suggest that by September 2021, two in five health and care workers (HCW) were vaccinated on average. But the differences across regions and economic groups remained stark. For instance, less than one in ten have been fully vaccinated in the African region while four in five have been vaccinated in 22 mostly high income countries.

The IAVG is concerned that the primary priority use of available vaccines is not consistent with the goals outlined the Strategy.  

More supply but more unknowns – Although the world is expected to have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses by mid-2022 to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population with three doses, uncertainties abound. These include the possible need for variant-specific vaccines, changes to vaccination policies, country preference for some products over others, the programmatic complexity of managing multiple products, and the need for better intelligence on country-level planning and execution. (World Health Organization)

The uncertainty of the required vaccination response to the Omicron variant will necessitate ongoing attention to achieving fairness and equity while requiring flexibility in vaccine allocation and supply management. 

Highly vulnerable populations – Our collective health security depends on the health security of all populations wherever they are, and whatever status they may have in individual countries.  Among them, people residing in humanitarian settings (refugees, internally displaced persons) are at considerably increased risk of infection with COVID-19 [12] and should be covered by country vaccine allocations. 

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Atayde backs PH Olympic fencer, QC fencing development program

4:11 p.m. May 21, 2024

QUEZON City 1st District Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde last week pledged to back QCSEP, a Quezon City fencing program responsible for producing one of the Filipino athletes going to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Atayde, a member of the Youth Sports Development Committee in the House of Representatives, said “fencing is one of the many sports that young Filipino athletes can excel in, and we are working with Councilor Joseph Juico so that we can help QCSEP better develop Filipino fencers who can compete not only in local tournaments, but also in international competitions.”

Atayde commended QCSEP for producing a Filipino fencer slated to represent the country in the 2024 Paris Olympics — 22-year-old Barangay Del Monte resident Samantha Kyle Catantan.  

Catantan qualified for the Paris Olympics after winning the gold in the women’s foil event at the Asia-Oceania Zonal Olympic Qualifier last July in the United Arab Emirates. She is the first Filipino fencer to qualify for the summer games since Walter Torres in 1988. 

“QCSEP deserves credit for developing world-class fencers like our very own Samantha Catantan,” said Atayde. “Her qualifying for the Olympics is proof that we should invest time and resources in fencing, which is why we plan to provide support for this sport in our district, and later on the entire Quezon City.”

Atayde stressed that support for sports programs is necessary “if we want to help Filipino athletes achieve their dreams of competing in the Olympics.”

Atayde met Juico, the young fencers of QCSEP, and their parents on May 17 at the legislator’s district office in West Avenue, Quezon City to discuss ways to help and to develop fencers not only from their district, but also cities from all over Metro Manila. 

“It’s great to know that there’s a grassroots sports program for fencing in Quezon City that develops and nurtures kids from all over Metro Manila. With enough helping hands, QCSEP can produce fencers who can excel in the sport and one day win a medal for our country in the Olympics,” said Atayde, who extended financial support for the team’s ongoing programs.

QCSEP Fencing is a program spearheaded by longtime QC 1st District Councilor Juico. It was established 18 years ago and is an active advocate of grassroots sports development.

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Activision brings Call of Duty Warzone Mobile to the court with unique basketball collaboration

5:09 p.m. May 19, 2024

Activision has made an exciting move with its latest Call of Duty Warzone Mobile campaign, seamlessly integrating the world of basketball to create real connections within the community. By combining the strategic elements of basketball with the intense gameplay of Warzone Mobile, Activision highlights how teamwork and quick thinking dominate in both arenas.

In a creative collaboration with Jappy Agoncillo, a renowned muralist, illustrator, and devoted COD fan, Activision has transformed a basketball court at SV Ball Park in New Manila, Quezon City into a vibrant, Warzone-themed masterpiece. This unique project not only showcases Agoncillo’s artistic talent but also underscores the synergy between the worlds of basketball and gaming.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the CODWZM Basketball Court Takeover, check out this video.

Filipinos’ passion for basketball is well-known, with the sport deeply ingrained in the nation’s culture. This collaboration taps into that love, creating a space where fans of both basketball and Call of Duty can come together. Watch how PBA Moto Club, Eruption, Jappy Agoncillo, and Honeycomb Arts brought this project to life in this special feature

Visit the Court:

  • Location: SV Ball Park, New Manila, Quezon City
  • Visiting Hours: Fridays through Sundays from 1 PM to 5 PM
  • Duration: May 16 to July 1, 2024

Basketball and Call of Duty Warzone enthusiasts are invited to experience this one-of-a-kind court, which will be open to the public during the above specified hours to ensure better accommodation and avoid overlapping with regular league games.

Visitors can enjoy the artwork, play basketball, and immerse themselves in the dynamic atmosphere that brings Warzone Mobile’s intensity to life.

Don’t miss out on this exciting blend of art, sports, and gaming. Swing by SV Ball Park and be part of

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“Priceless” Nino Muhlach FAMAS trophy sold to Boss Toyo 

12:59 p.m. May 15, 2024

Entrepreneur and child actor Nino Muhlach gave Boss Toyo one of his prized awards from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) in exchange for P500,000.

But Boss Toyo reiterated that Muhlach’s award is “priceless” and will become part of his future museum. 

In an episode of Pinoy Pawnstars last Monday, Boss Toyo haggled with Muhlach, who personally visited the content creator’s shop in Quezon City to personally give one of his five FAMAS awards and make it as part of his collection.

“Aalagaan mo ‘yan, irerestore mo yan [Take care of that, restore it],” Muhlach told Boss Toyo. 

Boss Toyo said that he wants to restore the award, one of Muhlach’s five FAMAS awards to its former glory and showcase it in his planned museum alongside the award that Jiro Manio sold to Boss Toyo a few months ago. 

Muhlach said that it was Toyo who personally inquired about the award and decided to sell to the content creator one of the five Best Child Performer awards that he received in his career. 

“I decided to give it to him, pero big deal, kailangan alagaan niya and irestore niya and ilagay niya sa museum niya, dahil hindi ko na naalagaan, ‘yun ang deal namin [I decided to give it to him, but big deal because he needs to take care of it seriously, restore it and put it in his museum because I never take care of it. That’s our deal],” Muhlach said.

Boss Toyo said that Nino Muhlach’s FAMAS award is one of his dream items as he wants to note how Muhlach changed Filipino entertainment through his movies with noted Filipino actors such as the King of Filipino movies and legends such as Fernando Poe Jr. and Dolphy. 

“Ikaw ang barometer, ‘pag sinabing ‘child actor’, tandaan natin, wala pa akong nakitang nakadaig sayo as a child actor [You are the barometer of a ‘child actor’ because we have to remember nobody does it better than you],” Toyo said. 

Apart from the award, Muhlach gave to Boss Toyo some of the theater lobby cards from the movies he starred in and produced. 

Aside from acting, Muhlach also dabbled in several businesses, including the El Nino Apartments and Muhlach Ensaymada, which was gifted to Boss Toyo.

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