Donated Sinovac doses arrive in the Philippines
A Chinese military aircraft carrying donated Sinovac vaccines lands at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on February 28, 2020.
Presidential Communications Operations Office, screen grab

Donated Sinovac doses arrive in the Philippines

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - February 28, 2021 - 4:22pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:16 p.m.) — Doses of China's Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine landed in Manila on Sunday in a significant step towards the government's vaccination efforts, which have been delayed for weeks.

With the arrival of the Sinovac vaccines and the expected arrival on Monday of more than 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, the Philippines is no longer the only country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations without coronavirus vaccines.

The Chinese military transport aircraft Xi'an Y-20 carrying the jabs landed at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at around 4 p.m., per a livestream by the state-run PTV. Administration officials are also at the site, with President Rodrigo Duterte present in the arrival ceremony.

This came after a tweet by China Global Television Network early Sunday afternoon that said the Chinese People's Liberation Army had delivered a batch of the Sinovac to the Philippines' armed forces.

The 600,000 doses are a donation from Beijing. The Philippines has been fostering warmer ties with China under the Duterte administration.

"I convey my sincere gratitude to the Chinese people and the government of China for this gesture of friendship and solidarity," President Rodrigo Duterte said at the ceremony, stressing also that vaccines should be treated as a global public good and be made available to all."

"I'm confident more batches of vaccine will be available with great dispatch until every Filipino will be given the chance to get vaccinated," he said.

Sinovac secured Emergency Use Approval from the Food and Drug Administration last week but faces doubts from the medical community and because of a perceived government preference for doses from China.

The FDA, in its announcement of the grant of EUA, advised against using Sinovac on health workers. It came after a dismal showing in clinical trials in Brazil involving medical personnel. 

The coronavirus task force later said Sinovac could now be used on health workers based on the assessment of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group.

Aside from the 600,000 doses, government also signed a term sheet for 25 million more doses of Sinovac but the purchase including its overall amount, has yet to be made final.

On the first day of March, Cabinet officials joined by at least three local chief executives will be inoculated with Sinovac in public across six government hospitals, per a media advisory of the health department.

It remains unclear as to when Duterte would receive the jab despite his repeated statements that he prefers Chinese or Russian vaccines.

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