President Duterte shows two samples of the one million procured Sinovac vaccines that arrived Monday
By Amado Inigo
MANILA — After more than a week of assorted glitches, delivery of one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine procured by the government from Sinovac Biotech has finally arrived into the country at Villamor Air Base on Monday from Beijing.
Originally slated to arrive last March 21, the first batch of a total of 25 million doses purchased by the government from China was received by no less than President Duterte.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Senate health committee chair Senator Bong Go, and other health officials were also on hand.
Aside from the initial shipment, the second batch is due for delivery next month, April, containing 1.5 million doses said Galvez who added that the Chinese government has also pledged to donate 400,000 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the 600,000 doses of Sinovac that Biotech’s CoronaVac earlier donated to the Philippines.
“Naprocess na po namin, naibigay na po namin ang purchase order. And then nangako rin po ang ating World Health Organization (WHO) na meron pa pong parating na AstraZeneca na 4.5 million until May. So kung ko-computin po natin, every month meron po tayong darating na 1.5 million,” he added.
The vaccine czar also explained that succeeding deliveries of Sinovac anti-Covid vaccines will be done in increasing numbers with the delivery in June expected to be in the vicinity of 4.5 million doses.
“From there, there will be at least three (3) million tranches in succeeding months after June until we arrive at the total number of orders from Sinovac of 25 million doses,” Galvez said.
What seems to be the only downside for Sinovac vaccine according to FDA Director-General Eric Domingo is CoronaVac’s efficacy rate which stands at 50.4 percent based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil, making it not the best vaccine to be given to medical front-liners exposed to COVID-19 patients.
Despite getting an emergency use authorization from the local FDA, Sinovac should only be administered to clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old, citing a higher efficacy rate of 65.3 percent among clinically healthy people within this age group based on clinical trials in Indonesia, and 91.2 percent based on clinical trials in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bong Go said the Philippines can rely on a steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines with more deliveries already scheduled.
If supplies will arrive only on time, Go said the government could meet its target of vaccinating 70 million Filipinos by the end of 2021 — which would hopefully lead to the end of the pandemic altogether and obtain hern immunity.
“The government continues to buy [vaccines],” Go said in Filipino. “Hopefully, by April, there will be five million doses lined up. When May arrives, there will be additional deliveries again. May this continue. By the second quarter, many more will be vaccinated, and we will slowly be able to attain the target of vaccinating 70 million people.”
Sen. Go also gave an assurance that the government has already secured the necessary amount of doses to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers adding that the vaccination priority list issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 must be followed amid reports of several politicians jumping the vaccination line.
Aside from the 1 million doses that arrived Monday, Go also said that the country can also expect at least 900,000 doses arriving from the COVAX facility soon.
“All these will total around 3.4 million doses. So these are enough for our front-liners,” he said.
Earlier, the Philippines also received delivery of 525,600 vaccines from AstraZeneca through the World Health Organization’s COVAX global facility. (AI/MTVN)