MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will witness on March 29 the arrival of around 1 million doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine purchased by the Philippine government from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech, Malacañang confirmed Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement in an online presser after announcing that Duterte would skip the March 24 turnover ceremony of additional 400,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine donated by the Chinese government.
“Hindi po sasalubong si Presidente sa 24 pero nasa kalendaryo po ng Presidente ‘yung pagsalubong doon sa 1 million na binili natin sa Sinovac ‘no on the 29th,” Roque said in an online press conference (The President would not witness [the delivery of Sinovac vaccines on March] 24 but he is scheduled to welcome the arrival of 1 million procured Sinovac vaccines on [March] 29),” Roque said.
Secretary Vivencio Dizon, the country’s Covid-19 testing czar, would instead attend the turnover rites on Duterte’s behalf on March 24.
The first batch of the Chinese government’s donated 600,000 CoronaVac vaccines was delivered to the Philippines on Feb. 28, allowing Duterte to kick off his administration’s free immunization drive on March 1.
The Philippine government hopes to achieve its goal of vaccinating 70 million Filipinos by yearend.
Covid-19 vaccine czar and National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., who joined Roque at the press briefing, said the government’s target is to inoculate around 500,000 to 1 million Filipinos weekly between April and May.
Galvez added that the country is expecting a steady supply of Covid-19 vaccines by the third and fourth quarters of this year.
He said the Philippines has already signed supply agreements with pharmaceutical firms Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Novavax.
The supply agreement with Johnson & Johnson is expected to be signed this week, while negotiations with Gamaleya and Pfizer are still ongoing, Galvez noted.
Apart from Sinovac vaccines, the Philippines has so far received 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.
Malacañang earlier announced that Duterte had approved the recommendation to administer the AstraZeneca vaccines as the first dose to medical front-liners to provide them partial protection against Covid-19. (PNA)