MANILA (UPDATE) – COVID-19 vaccines developed by China-backed pharmaceutical company Sinovac may arrive "as early as next month," Beijing's envoy confirmed Friday, as he cited a "new era of partnership" between the two countries amid the pandemic.
"We are now expecting China Sinovac vaccine [to] arrive in the Philippines as early as next month. The joint anti-pandemic response over the past year has enriched and strengthened our new-era partnership and vividly illustrated the sibling ties between our two peoples," Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said in a lengthy Facebook post.
Sinovac has yet to secure an emergency use authorization in the country that would allow it to be used for the Philippines' immunization drive against COVID-19.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. on Wednesday said Sinovac first needs to wrap up its vaccine clinical trials in Turkey and Brazil, data from which will be submitted to the Philippines' drug regulator.
Vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, which was granted EUA on Thursday, may likely arrive ahead of the Sinovac supply, Galvez added.
Government earlier said it has secured 25 million jabs of the Chinese-made vaccine, amid criticism over its supposed preference for the more expensive yet allegedly less effective vaccine.
Administration officials have, however, said Sinovac was offered to the Philippines at a lower price.
In the same statement, posted at the same time of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Manila, Huang said the Philippines and China have worked closely "to safeguard global and regional peace and stability" over the past year, citing support "on important multilateral and international occasions" and commitment to safeguard "UN-centered international system and the international order."
Huang added the two counties "have been committed to properly managing differences" in the South China Sea "through friendly negotiation and consultation despite external disruptions" and that both sides have committed to work on oil and gas development cooperation.
However, there was no mention of the arbitral award that the Philippines won in 2016 in an international tribunal which invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
Huang expressed optimism that China and the Philippines would boost cooperation, citing the anti-pandemic response and assistance that both countries undertook.
– Reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News