MANILA - The Philippines on Wednesday received 100,000 donated COVID-19 vaccine doses from China-based Sinopharm, the first-ever from the brand.
The vaccine, donated by the United Arab Emirates, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 via Flight EY 424 around 1:55 p.m., according to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
NTF and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Assistant Secretary Wilben M. Mayor, Health Director Ma. Soledad Antonio and UAE Embassy Acting Chargé d'Affaires Khalid Alhajeri welcomed the vaccines at NAIA.
Mayor thanked the UAE government for the vaccine donation, saying it would boost the country's immunization program amid the threat of the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
It will be distributed, he said, to areas where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Ito ay makakatulong sa mga lugar na nangangailangan ng bakuna, lalo na ngayong panahon na ito, with the Delta variant that we have here in the Philippines,” he said.
“Ang focus po natin dito ay kung saan may surge sa cases ng COVID natin ito ide-deploy, dahil iyon naman ang talagang nangangailangan ng supply.”
(This will be a big help in areas in need of vaccines, especially now with the Delta variant that we have here in the Philippines. We deploy these to where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases, because that is where supply is needed.)
Sinopharm's vaccine candidate had been used on President Rodrigo Duterte, even before it was granted emergency use.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration granted the Department of Health (DOH) approval to receive donated Sinopharm vaccines.
"Noong May 20, si (Health) Sec. (Francisco) Duque wrote a letter to FDA (that) they are willing to accept donations for Sinopharm coming from China, and this has been granted an EUA ng the WHO. So ito ay tiningnan na rin ng ating mga experts. At ang atin pong evaluation sa FDA, and today we already granted an emergency use authorization to DOH to accept the donations of Sinopharm," FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said then.
(Last May 20, Health Sec. Francisco Duque wrote a letter to the FDA, saying that they are willing to accept donations for Sinopharm coming from China, and that this has been granted an EUA by The Who. So, this was assessed by our experts. And with the evaluation of the FDA, today, we already granted an emergency use authorization to DOH to accept the donations of Sinopharm.)
Sought for clarification on the latest status of the Sinopharm product with the arrival Wednesday of the 100,000 doses, Domingo told ABS-CBN News that an EUA was "issued today for the vaccines donated by the UAE."
"The vaccine is identical to the Sinopharm vaccine from China that is included in the WHO EUL," he said.
Domingo recently said the Sinopharm vaccine can only be used on adults in the Philippines, despite it being approved for even ages 3 to 17 in China and the UAE.
The vaccine brand was granted EUA due to the expected arrival of at least 1 million donated doses this month, he said during President Rodrigo Duterte's Talk to the People last Monday.
"Nagbigay po tayo ng EUA dito dahil makakatanggap nga po tayo ng this month ng 1 million doses na donations nito," he said in his report to Duterte.
(We issued an EUA because we will receive 1 million COVID-19 doses as donation.)
"And aside from that, ‘yung Sinopharm mayroon na rin pong itinayong --- mayroon pa pong isang factory na nag-uumpisa ngayong mag-produce sa Wuhan, at sila po ay mayroon na rin pong nag-a-apply ng EUA from that factory and this is now being ano, being assessed by our regulatory ano --- regulatory experts po sa FDA," he added.
(Sinopharm's factory in Wuhan has also started producing, and they are applying for an EUA for the product from that factory. That is being assessed by our drug regulatory experts now.)
The Presidential Security Group was first to receive Sinopharm's vaccine last year, while Duterte received his shots in early May (first dose) and about a month ago (2nd dose).
The fresh batch of vaccine doses brings the total deliveries to the country to 38.7 million doses. The Philippines received its first vaccine delivery last Feb. 28.
Since the country's vaccination program started in March, the government has been able to administer nearly 25 million doses, of which 13.3 million are first shots.
Some 11.6 million Filipinos, meanwhile, are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
- with reports from Vivienne Gulla and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News