By Junex Doronio
April 2, 2021
MANILA — As if taunting his critics who are vigorously calling for his resignation, Health Secretary Francisco “Dingkoy” Duque III on Friday said the Philippines is exerting its “best effort” to get more doses of China’s Sinovac anti-Covid-19 vaccine.
Duque earlier said that health authorities were working to fast-track the approval of Sinovac’s use on senior citizens since the Chinese vaccine is only recommended for clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59.
“We are doing our best effort to get more Sinovac [vaccines]. 1.5 million doses are arriving this April and 2 million more doses by May,” Duque said in an interview with GMA News Online.
This developed as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVAX, a global initiative for equitable vaccine distribution, is facing a “serious challenge” to meet growing demand, posing a threat to the Philippines’ already scarce vaccine supply.
Aside from Sinovac, Duque also wants more Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines.
Duque said that vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. is “negotiating with Gamaleya for 500,000 doses of Sputnik V instead of 100,000.”
Critics, including some lawmakers, have been calling for Duque’s resignation because of his “inept handling of the pandemic.”
The Philippines has a standing agreement with China involving the procurement of 24 million doses of Sinovac, due for delivery in tranches through December this year.
Last Monday (29 March 2021), the Philippines received the first installment from China of 1 million procured doses of Sinovac. (AI.MTVN)