Chinese COVID-19 vaccine is only option for Filipinos until June: Palace

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2021 02:21 PM | Updated as of Jan 12 2021 02:56 PM

A medical worker takes a box of Sinovac's vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from a refrigerator at a community health center in Qingdao, Shandong province, China January 5, 2021. Picture taken Jan. 5, 2021. China Daily/Reuters 

MANILA — The COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac will be the sole option for inoculation among Filipinos until the middle of the year, Malacañang said on Tuesday. 

The first batch of the Sinovac vaccine will arrive in the Philippines in February, while doses from Western drug makers will only be available by June.

"Pagdating po ng bakuna hanggang Hunyo, wala po talagang pilian 'yan dahil iisa lang po ang bakuna na magiging available. Iyon nga po iyong galing sa Tsina," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters in an online briefing.

(When the vaccine arrives until June, there will really be no choice because only one vaccine will be available. That's the one from China.)

Roque on Monday said Filipinos "with colonial mentality" who prefer the COVID-19 vaccine from US-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer cannot be choosy about the jabs they would get from the government. 

However, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said earlier Tuesday that the Pfizer vaccine might arrive earlier than Sinovac because its rollout would be supervised by the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to the drug.

All vaccines that the local Food and Drug Administration will authorize for emergency use would have "equal footing," said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

"Ito po ay magiging ligtas saka magiging epektibo para sa ating mga kababayan," she said in Roque's briefing. 

(This will be safe and effective for our compatriots.)

"Hindi po natin kailangan na mamili po tayo ng bakuna. Kung ano po iyong mauunang bakuna, atin pong tanggapin iyan," Vergeire said.

(We do not need to choose the vaccine. Whatever will be first, let us accept that.)

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