MANILA (UPDATE)— The Philippines on Thursday received another delivery of 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac Biotech.
The Philippine Airlines flight carrying the purchased jabs landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 5 p.m.
The shipment brings the Philippines' COVID-19 vaccine stock to 3.525 million, of which at least 1.6 million doses have been administered.
Out of the latest Sinovac batch, about 100,000 will be deployed to Metro Manila within 2 to 3 days, said vaccine "czar" Carlito Galvez Jr.
"Inaasahan po natin na iyong administration nito is within one week matatapos po kaagad," he said.
(We expect that its administration will be completed within one week.)
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte said a swarm of some 240 Chinese boats in the West Philippine Sea "will not be an obstacle" to Beijing and Manila's COVID-19 vaccine cooperation.
Galvez, a former military general, said the maritime dispute was a "separate" issue from the COVID-19 shots.
The Philippines has one of Asia's worst COVID-19 outbreaks and has faced difficulties securing vaccine supplies.
Sinovac shots form the bulk of the Philippines' vaccine inventory so far, a million of which were donated by China.
Besides Sinovac, the government also expects half a million doses of Sputnik V, which it procured, and 195,000 doses of Pfizer jabs from the COVAX facility this April.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate 70 million people this year or two-thirds of its people this year to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus.
– with reports from Vivienne Gulla and Jamaine Punzalan of ABS-CBN News, and from Reuters