Pandemic-hit Philippines may finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of the first batch of the precious coronavirus vaccines on Sunday, Feb. 27.
Around 600,000 doses of vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech will be delivered to Manila with President Duterte and some Cabinet members ready to welcome the cargo at the airport.
The arrival of the Sinovac vaccines, donated by the government of China, comes as the pandemic has infected more than half a million people, and severely weakened the local economy.
“Excited na kami dahil bukas darating na ang bakuna. Personal na sasalubungin ni Presidente (We are excited because the vaccines will arrive Sunday. The President will personally welcome the vaccine arrival),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said over state television Saturday, Feb. 27.
The turnover of the vaccines will be held at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier approved the Sinovac vaccines for emergency use, paving the way for their immediate delivery to the country. The drug regulators did not recommend the use of the Sinovac vaccines for health workers due to the varying levels of efficacy. The vaccine, however, may be used by healthy individuals between 18 and 59 years old.
Roque said the country’s health workers may decline the Sinovac vaccine, and wait for their preferred brand of the preventive drug. He said these health workers would not lose their priority status if they reject the first available drug.
He also assured that medical frontliners would be given a chance to choose the vaccine brand they prefer to be inoculated with.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian earlier said the donated vaccines to the Philippines are part of the friendship and partnership between the two countries. “It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed,” he said.