The national government accepted on Wednesday, March 24, a total of 400,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines from China’s firm Sinovac Biotech which were again donated by the Chinese government as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Amb. Huang Xilian, Senate committee on Health chair Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, and other officials from the Inter-Agency Task Group (IATF) and Department of Health (DOH) welcomed the arrival of the additional donated CoronaVac doses at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
A commercial plane from the Philippine Airlines (PAL) touched down at NAIA Terminal 2 in Pasay City around 9 a.m. as it became the first local carrier to fetch and deliver COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
The 400,000 CoronaVac doses brought the total vaccine donation of China to one million, after it gave for free 600,000 vials to the Philippines on February 28, 2021.
“We are grateful for the arrival of additional donated vaccines. The arrival of these vaccines could not have occurred at a more opportune time considering the continued rise in cases, which in turn increases the need to inoculate more high-risk individuals as soon as possible,” Duque said.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of NTF Against COVID-19, said that the government is keen on pushing for the finalization of all ongoing negotiations with different pharmaceutical companies for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
This, he said, is important to ensure that the country will have enough doses to vaccinate 70 million of the population in order to achieve herd immunity by year-end.
“The arrival of these donated vaccines from China is a testament that when all nations are working together, we can surmount any challenges ahead. The Philippine government will continue to strengthen its collaboration with China to finally put an end to this pandemic,” Galvez, who virtually monitored the arrival of vaccine donations since he has yet to finish his 14-day quarantine after a trip from India two weeks ago, said in a statement.
With the arrival of additional vaccine doses, Duque reiterated that the existing vaccination prioritization framework, which prioritizes the 1.7 million healthcare workers, must be maintained.
“We shall see to it that all of our healthcare workers, not just in the National Capital Region but in the whole country, are given the protection they need and deserve for being at the forefront of the battle against the virus,” Duque said.
Before the end of March, the country is expecting to receive 1.9 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses through the government’s negotiations with Sinovac and the COVAX Facility led by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A total of one million vaccines which were procured by the government from Sinovac are expected to arrive on March 29. Meanwhile, Galvez said 979,200 doses of donated AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX Facility are set to be delivered “between March 22 to March 26.”
The arrival of the donations from China brought the total vaccine supply of the country to 1,525,600 doses where around 1.1 million doses have already been deployed to various hospitals nationwide.