MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippines on Thursday accepted 2 million more government-bought COVID-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac, in a bid to boost the country's pandemic response amid rising COVID-19 infections.
The vaccines arrived 7:20 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 via a Philippine Airlines flight PR359.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and National Task Force Medical Adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa welcomed the delivery.
Galvez said half of the vaccine doses will be allocated to Metro Manila, while the rest will be delivered to the different provinces.
Including the new shipment, the country now has 41,515,350 vaccine doses, of which majority are Sinovac vaccines.
Galvez also said another 4 million Sinovac vaccine doses and 1 million Sinopharm vaccines will be delivered to the country on August 19 and 20.
The government is also expecting another 578,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines procured by the private sector, and 15,000 doses of Sputnik V component 2, which will be used as second dose, this Friday.
Majority of the expected vaccine doses will be allocated for Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities like Cebu and Davao, as well as areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
"Iyong lahat ng governors at saka other areas, mayroon kayong equitable share sa NCR and other areas na may variant, dahil we are racing against time. We need to vaccinate as many as possible para at least para maprotektahan natin ang economic activities natin at the same time iyong social risks na kapag hindi natin navaccinate iyong highly urbanized centers katulad Manila, Cebu, Davao nakita natin na malaki ang magnitude at catastrophic ang effect sa ating economy at sa ating livelihood. At the same time, it will compromise the majority of our population," Galvez said.
Herbosa likewise clarified that there is still no urgent need to prioritize children in the country's vaccine roll-out.
"Iyong Pfizer, na-approve na iyan ng ating FDA sa 12 years old up to 15. Kasi iyong unang EUA niya 16 years old pero iyong ating NITAG, ang stand nila ay 18 years old muna. Bakunahan natin ang mga matatanda, at iyong mga adults para maprotektahan iyong mga bata. Kasi iyong mga bata sa adult din naiinfect so once magkaabante na tayo sa adults I think we can vaccinate the children with the Pfizer na mayroon tayo," he said.
Meanwhile, the delivery comes as the country battles a fresh surge of COVID-19 infections, after the Department of Health (DOH) posted over 12,000 new cases for the 2nd straight day.
The country now has 1,700,363 total confirmed coronavirus infections, of which 87,663 or 5.2 percent are active, the highest since April 23, according to ABS-CBN's research unit.
As of Wednesday, the government has so far administered 26.12 million vaccine doses, of which 14.10 million are first shots.
More than 12 million people are already fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.