World, Asia - Pacific

Philippines sees worst recession ever amid COVID-19

Economy shrank 9.5% last year, say authorities, as Manila approves emergency use of AstraZeneca vaccine

Pizaro Gozali Idrus and Hayati Nupus   | 28.01.2021
Philippines sees worst recession ever amid COVID-19


The Philippines’ economy contracted a record 9.5% last year as coronavirus measures wrecked the retail and tourism sectors while a series of natural disasters ruined crops, official data said Thursday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority that while gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 9.5% year-on-year in 2020, it is showing an easing decline from the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number, according to government data, was the worst since records began in 1946.

The agency said GDP plunged 8.3% year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

The recession last year further hampered the two-decade growth of the country’s economy since 1998, when the Asian financial crisis caused GDP to fall 0.5%.

Meanwhile, the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday issued emergency use authorization approval for the COVID-19 vaccine made by British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca.

“After a thorough review by our medical and regulatory experts, the FDA has approved the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca," Eric Domingo, the body’s director general, told a virtual news briefing.

The Philippines has already signed a cooperation agreement to procure 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The AstraZeneca jab is the second vaccine approved by Manila after Germany's Pfizer-BioNTech.

The Philippines will receive free Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines through the COVAX Facility initiated by the World Health Organization. Manila is also eyeing the procurement of 40 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.

It has also signed a cooperation agreement for the procurement of vaccines from US-based vaccine producer Novavax and Chinese firm Sinovac.

The Philippines is set to start its coronavirus vaccination program in February with the initial phase of inoculations targeting 50-70 million people.

The country is the second most-affected nation by COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, with nearly 520,000 cases, including more than 10,500 fatalities.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian-language services in Jakarta.

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