MANILA — The arrival of COVID-19 shots from China's Sinovac Biotech might be delayed due to its lack of emergency use authorization in the Philippines, Malacañang said on Thursday, contrary to a previous statement.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque earlier said that the supposed Feb. 23 arrival of 600,000 Beijing-donated Sinovac doses was "etched in stone."
“Bagama’t sinabi ko po na talagang parating na rin ang Sinovac, ang Sinovac naman po na donated ng Tsina ay nais muna nilang hintayin iyong EUA bago iparating sa ating bansa iyong kanilang donated na Sinovac,” he told reporters in an online briefing.
(Though I said that Sinovac will really soon arrive, it wants to wait first for the EUA before it sends the donated shots.)
“Kapag hindi po lumabas ang EUA, baka po maantala rin ang pagdating ng 600,000 na Sinovac. Pero mas mabuti na po talaga na and’yan na iyong EUA para sigurado na pagdating, gamit agad... Malaman na rin natin para alam natin kung magagamit o hindi," he added.
(If the EUA is not issued, the arrival of 600,000 Sinovac doses might be delayed. But it is really better for the EUA to be issued before it is delivered so that once it gets here, it will be immediately used. We will also know if it can be really used or not.)
Of the 600,000 Sinovac doses, 100,000 shots were supposed to go to the military, and the rest to health workers.
Roque had said Sinovac shots would be sent back to China if it fails to get an EUA from the Food and Drug Administration.
The drug regulator has so far granted EUAs to only two COVID-19 vaccine makers, namely US-based Pfizer and the United Kingdom's AstraZeneca.
The vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility's delivery of AstraZeneca shots to the Philippines “is estimated to begin as of late February,” Roque said. COVAX's delivery of Pfizer shots meanwhile has been delayed due to cold storage issues, he said.
The Philippines has not yet received any authorized COVID-19 vaccines, with which it hopes to inoculate 70 million people or two-thirds of the population this year, starting in February.