MANILA (UPDATE 2) - The Philippines received on Sunday an additional supply of 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Beijing-based Sinovac that the government had purchased, officials said.
The new supply of CoronaVac arrived past 5 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport via Philippine Airlines flight PR359.
"It is very important because we are racing against time. Our cases are rising and we want to also inoculate our people immediately. And we are thankful to Sinovac for honoring their commitment to us," Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the country's vaccine czar, said in a statement.
The Philippines received its first batch of procured Sinovac vaccine, amounting to 1 million doses, last March 29. Another 1 million doses of the same product were earlier donated by China.
The Department of Health had said the government procured a total of 25 million doses from Sinovac, which uses the inactivated or killed COVID-19 virus. Inactivated virus vaccines have long been used for inoculation.
The NTF said Sinovac has committed to deliver 1.5 million doses of its product this month, and 2 million in May.
Galvez said this new batch of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered to Visayas and Mindanao, and some areas in Metro Manila with high COVID-19 cases.
The CoronaVac has been administered mainly to the country’s health workers, and recently, was allowed for use among senior citizens.
According to the country's Food and Drug Administration, CoronaVac showed an efficacy rate of 65.3 percent based on trials in Indonesia, and up to 91.2 percent based on trials done in Turkey, involving adults aged 18 to 59 years.
Over half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca have also been delivered to and used in the Philippines.
The country, which has logged over 864,000 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus.
So far, nearly 923,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the country, including 50,685 as second dose.
- with a report from Jeffrey Hernaez, ABS-CBN News