The country has received an additional one million doses of the anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine CoronaVac, which were transported by Chinese manufacturer Sinovac Biotech on Friday morning, July 30.
The procured vaccines comprised the 19th tranche of life-saving jabs that have been delivered by Sinovac to the Philippines since February. The shipment containing the vaccines arrived around 7:35 a.m. at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 723.
Prior to this, some 1.5 million doses of Sinovac jabs were received by the government on Thursday.
“Per DOH [Department of Health], the bulk of this latest vaccine shipment will be deployed to NCR-plus while the rest will be dispatched to cities tagged as high-risk areas,” the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said.
The NCR-plus refers to National Capital Region (NCR) and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite. Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) said last July 29 that the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Western Visayas (Region 6), and Davao (Region 11) were among those tagged as “high-risk areas” for COVID-19.
The arrival of the vaccines happened several hours before the Malacañang announced the reimposition of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest form of lockdown, in the NCR from August 5 to 20. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement.
Independent experts’ group OCTA Research had said that there was a surge of infections in the NCR, which they attributed to the feared local spread of the Delta variant, a highly transmissible mutation of the coronavirus.
The NTF said the additional vaccines will help speed up the vaccination program of the local government units (LGUs) to counter the potentially devastating effects of the Delta variant. This is the same variant that sent India to its worst surge in April, and the cause of the recent rise of infections in Indonesia and Thailand.
Last July 27, the country recorded the highest daily vaccine throughput, with a total of 659,029 doses administered in a single day. This was the first time that the government breached its target of administering 500,000 doses per day.
“Our vacine supply will be able to match the growing demand by October as we have already seen our vaccination rate picking up because our LGUs [local government units] are ramping up their capacities to quickly inoculate their contituents,” said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. last Wednesday.
The latest vaccine delivery brought the country’s total supply to 33,860,700 doses.
Of these, more than half or 19.5 million doses are Sinovac jabs. Other brands include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V, and Moderna.