MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines has secured 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Chinese drug maker Sinovac, Malacañang said on Monday, as nations raced to inoculate their people against the disease that had spurred lockdowns, deaths and recessions.
"Darating na ang bakuna sa Pilipinas sa susunod na buwan," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
(The vaccine will arrive in the Philippines next month.)
"Huwag naman kayong masyadong mag-celebrate d'yan dahil ang unang dadating po ay 50,000 doses lamang ng vaccine galing sa Sinovac. But at least, magsisimula na rin tayo," he told reporters in an online briefing.
(Don't celebrate too much because the initial batch that will arrive is only 50,000 doses from Sinovac. But at least, we will start our vaccination, too.)
Sinovac will send the rest of vaccine doses later this year, said Roque.
The first batch of 50,000 doses from Sinovac is on top of 15,000 jabs that will be used for clinical trials, he said.
"Ibig sabihin, by February, at least 65,000 na ang mabibigyan ng bakuna," he said.
(This means that by February, at least 65,000 people will receive the vaccine.)
Other COVID-19 vaccines will arrive from Pfizer in June, and from AstraZeneca in July, he said.
"There’s nothing spectacular about Sinovac, other than it’s been proven safe and efficient," said Roque.
He said he hoped Beijing would donate some of the vaccines.
"We expect that it will be paid. But let’s see, maybe—just maybe, I’m speculating—China will donate some of it. Let’s see," he said. "After all, we do have very close relations with China."
The Philippines is set to welcome Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Jan. 15-16 for an official visit, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
"Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin and his Chinese counterpart are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting to consider ways to accelerate mutually beneficial cooperation, particularly in the priority areas of trade and investments, infrastructure development and addressing the pandemic," said the DFA.