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Duterte receives 1 million Sinovac vaccines purchased by DOH

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte receives 1 million Sinovac vaccines purchased by DOH
President Duterte cheers as he receives one million doses of procured Sinovac vaccines at Villamor Air Base yesterday. Also in photo are (from left) Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Sen. Bong Go.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday witnessed the arrival of one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the first government-procured pandemic shots delivered in the country.

The China-made vaccines arrived yesterday on a Philippine Airlines commercial flight from Beijing and were welcomed by President Duterte in a brief ceremony held at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

During the event, Duterte inspected the crate containing the jabs before proceeding with the ceremonial turnover. He did not deliver a speech, and returned to Malacañang after the ceremony to attend a meeting of the government’s pandemic task force.

Also present at the turnover rites were vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Sen. Bong Go and Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.?It was the third shipment of Sinovac vaccines that arrived in the Philippines since February. The first two batches, which totaled one million doses, were donated by the Chinese government and are now being administered to health workers.

The Philippines also received a total of 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca shots acquired through the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility this month.?Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government spent P700 million for the Sinovac vaccines, with the bulk of shots to be distributed in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan – areas placed on a one-week lockdown – as well as in Cebu and Davao. He reiterated that the Sinovac jabs cannot be administered to senior citizens.

Part of 25-M doses

The shipment is part of the 25 million doses of vaccines, called CoronaVac, procured by the Philippine government from Sinovac.

The Bureau of Customs cleared and released the one million doses of Sinovac vaccines in two separate airway bills with the total gross weight of 13,050 kilos through advance documents presented by representatives from the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).?Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero assured the public that the bureau would continue to expedite the processing and release of the vaccines and related shipments amid the surge of infections in the country.?“The one million vaccines is but the first of the many other doses we have negotiated to achieve our goal of herd immunity,” National Task Force chief implementer Galvez said in a statement released by the Department of Health (DOH).

“The arrival of these vaccines is great news as we are beginning to see the fruits of our negotiation efforts after months of hard work to provide vaccines for our people,” Galvez said.

The government is expecting the delivery of some 1.5 to 4 million doses from Sinovac by April and May, in addition to 979,200 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility.

“These will allow the country to further expand coverage of our vaccination program,” Galvez said. – Sheila Crisostomo, Rudy Santos

COVID-19 VACCINE

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