MANILA — The first batch of 50,000 doses of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in the Philippines “before the end of February”, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said.
In an interview with Philippine government media, Huang vouched for the quality of the vaccine made by Sinovac as he spoke of its “high safety and strong accessibility.”
Huang said “there [are] no serious adverse reactions after vaccination” as millions in China, Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia have already been inoculated with the China-made vaccine.
“At present, the Philippine government agency is closely discussing vaccine procurement with Sinovac. If everything goes smoothly, the first batch of 50,000 doses of vaccines will arrive in the Philippines before the end of February to help the Philippines’ fight against the pandemic,” the ambassador said.
He said Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s participation in their respective countries’ mass inoculation campaign demonstrated their “confidence and trust in Sinovac’s vaccine.”
On Saturday, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine Foreign Sec. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. that China was willing to provide the country some 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses free of charge “to guide enterprises to promote vaccine procurement cooperation with the Philippines as soon as possible.”
“The vaccine developed by China Sinovac Biotech is an inactivated one with mature technology, high safety and strong accessibility. As of today, millions of people in China, Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia have been inoculated with the vaccine and there [are] no serious adverse reactions after vaccination,” Huang said.
He said the vaccine is “very suitable” to the Philippines, noting that one of the advantages in procuring it is the 2 to 8 degrees Celsius storage requirement. Sinovac’s vaccine could also be stored for up to 6 months.
“[This] means you can use existing infrastructure to support delivery and storage and no further investment needed to buy ultra-cold storage facilities,” the envoy said.
“Data also show that even under the extreme environment, the vaccines can be stored at 25 degrees Celsius for at least 42 days, or stored at 37 degrees Celsius for at least 21 days. I think this is very suitable to the Philippines, as it is a tropical and archipelago country,” he said.
The Philippines' Food and Drug Administration is still awaiting additional data from Sinovac before it could proceed with its evaluation of the EUA application for its vaccine.
But the regulatory agency has already approved the application of the company to conduct clinical trial for its vaccine candidate in the country.
The Philippines' cumulative total of COVID-19 cases climbed to 504,084 on Tuesday after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,357 new infections.
The active cases stood at 27,857, the death toll, 9,978, and total recoveries, 466,249.
The country confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged in late 2019.
Properly handling differences
Meanwhile, Huang said that during Wang’s visit, the Philippines and China “agreed to adhere to the important consensus” reached by Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in “properly handling” differences to resolve maritime disputes “while strengthening cooperation, including jointly promoting offshore oil and gas cooperation.”
“Both sides agreed to adhere to the important consensus reached by the two leaders to properly handle differences while strengthening cooperation, including jointly promoting offshore oil and gas cooperation, so as to find solutions that adapt to the times to solve the problems left over from history, with joint efforts for peace and stability in the South China Sea as well as development and prosperity in the region,” Huang said.
China “is poised” to join the country in seeking common ground and settling differences “so as to forge a closer China-Philippines relationship of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation,” he added.
On Saturday, Wang and Locsin said the maritime issues “do not represent the entirety” of their countries' relationship, citing the importance of shelving differences amid the pandemic.
An international arbitration court in The Hague declared China's sweeping claims in the South China as having no legal basis. But Beijing is not honoring the ruling.