A total of 3,530,400 doses of CoronaVac vaccine arrived in the country on Wednesday, Nov. 17, which completed the government’s purchase order of 52 million coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines from China-based manufacturer Sinovac Biotech.
The newly delivered vaccines pushed the total supply to 128,444,400 doses where around 42 percent or 54,030,400 doses were composed of Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines. A total of 52,030,400 doses were procured by the government while another two million doses were donated by Sinovac.
In total, Sinovac Biotech delivered 33 shipments to complete the national government’s purchase order and its donations to the country.
“This is a very successful completion of contract that we have with China and this Sinovac vaccine,” said Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
“The Filipino people will always be grateful to the Chinese government and Sinovac for facilitating the continuous, and steady, and timely delivery of the life-saving vaccines,” he added.
The Sinovac shots were the first COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in the country during the onset of the pandemic last year. The arrival of 600,000 doses of vaccine donation on February 28, 2020 paved the way for the rollout of the national vaccination program in March.
However, the vaccination program had a bumpy start as vaccine hesitancy was evident among the public due to Sinovac’s lower efficacy compared to other Western-made brands.
While Sinovac-CoronaVac offered around 50 to 70 percent efficiency in preventing infections based on global studies at the time, other brands such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca from the United States and United Kingdom have over 90 percent efficiency.
“Those were very difficult times as the nation was scrambling over limited supply of vaccines and the situation was also compounded by the very high cost of COVID-19jabs,” Galvez recalled.
But Galvez pushed through with the use of Sinovac amid heavy criticisms from several individuals and organizations if only to offer at least some form of protection to the most vulnerable sectors such as the healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
A year and eight months since the vaccination program was launched, a total of 39,467,788 individuals have already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 32,212,344 have been fully vaccinated as of Nov. 17.
The fully vaccinated population represented 41.76 percent of the 77 million eligible population that the government aims to inoculate by year-end to achieve herd immunity or population protection.
The number of daily cases has also gone down from as high as 20,000 during the outbreak of Delta variant earlier this year to just 1,000 or 2,000 now. Last Tuesday, around 800 cases were recorded by the Department of Health (DOH), the lowest in 10 months.
“We are very happy to see the quick and able efforts of the government of the Philippines and the people of the Philippines. The number of cases are coming down remarkably and it is below even 1,000 yesterday,” said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.
“We congratulate the kind of progress that you have made with the quick efforts and we hope to see the people in this country will be able to enjoy economic and social recovery, and enjoy a very happy and healthy Christmas,” he added.
Galvez hopes that the continuous arrival of vaccines in the country will encourage more people to have themselves vaccinated so that the government can also achieve its target of administering 1.5 million doses in a single day.
“With the arrival of CoronaVac jabs, we are moving closer to our goal of reaching a daily vaccination of 1.5 million doses and achieving the population protection by year-end,” he said.