400K more donated Sinovac doses arriving this week, Chinese ambassador says
A health worker administers the Sinovac vaccine to her colleague at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on March 1, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

400K more donated Sinovac doses arriving this week, Chinese ambassador says

(Philstar.com) - March 22, 2021 - 2:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — More doses of Sinovac are due to arrive in the country this week, China's ambassador to Manila said Monday.

The delivery of 400,000 more doses brings China's total donation to the Philippines at a million, after the 600,000 that was flown in on February 28.

Ambassador Huang Xilian said his team has been "working round the clock" with their counterparts in the Philippines.

The country's vaccination program, which aims to inoculate betwen 50 million and 70 million Filipinos this year to reach herd immunity, kicked off with Sinovac doses.

The Philippine government also finalized its P700-million purchase of another million doses of the Chinese-made vaccine which could arrive by April. 

That was the only procurement made so far by the administration, with talks with vaccine manufacturers still in the supply agreement stage.

To date, all of the country's vaccine supplies have been donations, that from China and doses of AstraZeneca under the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.

Xilian said there is a need "to race against time" in speeding up vaccination efforts as more cases from variants of the COVID-19 are detected and with the ongoing surge in the country. 

The developments have led government to restrict non-essential travel and mass gatherings anew in Metro Manila and four other provinces for at least the next two weeks. 

As it stands, the health department said some 336,656 have been vaccinated as of March 20 in 1,623 vaccination sites in 17 regions.

Initially, there was a plan for Sinovac to be administered to senior citizens, a move that the Food and Drug Administration shot down, saying there is no evidence yet that would change its earlier finding that the vaccine is not for use by the elderly. —  Christian Deiparine

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