MANILA - The Philippines is set to receive this week an additional 400,000 doses of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine donated by China, Beijing's top diplomat in Manila said Monday.
"Race against time! The second batch of China-donated vaccines is arriving soon," Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said in a statement.
The Chinese government on Feb. 28 delivered 600,000 doses of Sinovac jabs, its first batch of donation that kickstarted the Philippines' COVID-19 vaccination drive.
"No one is safe until everyone is safe. In the face of the spread of new COVID-19 variants across the globe, and the resurgence of cases in the Philippines, we need to race against time in our efforts to speed up the mass inoculation process," Xilian said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Sunday that 1 million vaccine doses purchased by the government from Sinovac area also expected to arrive on March 29.
The Philippines has also received 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the World Health Organization-backed COVAX vaccine sharing facility.
Additional supply from AstraZeneca will come in in early April at the latest, said Roque.
As of Monday, over 336,000, mostly medical frontliners, have been vaccinated in the country against the disease, according to data from the health ministry. Up to 70 million are targeted for vaccination to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
More than 1.1 million vaccines have been distributed and 1,623 vaccination sites are currently inoculating health workers in 17 regions, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, the Philippines is facing new surge of infections, with daily cases reaching over 7,000 for 3 straight days.
Officials and analysts attribute the spike COVID-19 cases to increased mobility of people, non-compliance with health protocols and the presence of more transmissible coronavirus 19 variants.
The Philippines 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.