Metro Manila health frontliners first to get COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac: official

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2021 12:30 PM

A worker performs a quality check in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a government-organized media tour in Beijing, China, Sept. 24, 2020. Thomas Peter, Reuters/File 

MANILA — Health workers in Metro Manila will be the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech, an official said on Tuesday, as the Philippines eyed launching its inoculation drive next month. 

The government has secured 25 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, the first 50,000 jabs of which will arrive in February, Malacañang said this week. 

Asked who will be the first to get these doses, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said: "Medical frontliners for NCR (National Capital Region)." 

"Iyan ang number one priority natin in terms of region, and in terms of segment of society," he told reporters in an online briefing.

(That is the our number one priority in terms of region, and in terms of segment of society.)

Metro Manila has been the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the country. 

Medical frontliners from other regions are next in line in the priority list, followed by senior citizens in Metro Manila, then the elderly in other regions, said Nograles. 

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Some 35 million Filipinos are in the government's inoculation priority, including soldiers, police officers, essential workers from the government, vulnerable communities, and indigents, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez earlier said. 

These beneficiaries are not allowed to choose which vaccines they would get, Malacañang said on Monday. 

The Sinovac vaccine showed a general efficacy of less than 60 percent in its late-stage trial in Brazil, a news website reported. Officials here earlier said such rate is "acceptable."