MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines on Thursday received additional 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China-based Sinovac, a government task force said.
The government-bought vaccines arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) shortly before 6 p.m. via a Philippine Airlines flight.
Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., who was present during the arrival, said this is the biggest single-day delivery from the brand.
The Philippines has so far taken delivery of over 45.94 million virus shots since February, more than half or 25.5 million of which were from Sinovac.
The government targets to buy a total of 26 million Sinovac vaccine doses. So far, 24.5 million jabs have been procured.
China donated an initial 1 million doses to kickstart the Philippines' vaccination rollout in March.
“Nakita natin na nabuo na natin halos ang iyong 26 (million) eh. Nagkaroon tayo ng mangyayari itong 26 (million), mabubuo natin by tomorrow siguro. And we have an additional 3 million na pinocure. At we have additional 10 million on September, and another 9 million by October,” Galvez said.
(We were able to complete the 26 million target. We will be able to complete it tomorrow. Plus, we have an additional 3 million more vaccine doses from the brand. And 10 million more in September, and another 9 million by October.)
The official pointed out that the newly delivered Sinovac shots will be distributed nationwide, most especially to vaccination sites with limited or depleting supplies.
“Ang concentration natin ay sa lahat ng regions. Actually, pinag-usapan na namin na almost equitable ang distribution based doon sa ‘day to last’ nila. Kasi ang ginagawa natin ngayon, nagkakaroon tayo ng ‘day to last’. Ibig sabihin, mayroon na silang ongoing vaccination at naka-program na kung ilang araw na ang nalalabi sa mga vaccine nila," he explained.
(We will distribute it to all regions. We talked about this and we think that the most equitable way to distribute it is by identifying vaccination sites that are already at "day to last." This means that these sites have ongoing vaccination and their vaccine supplies would only last for a couple of days.)
"Ito ginagawa natin para ma-maximize natin ang vaccination para walang matengga doon sa mga mahihina na mag-vaccinate.”
(We are doing this to maximize vaccination and so that COVID-19 vaccines would not go to waste.)
Earlier in the day, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said his government would donate 1 million Sinopharm jabs to the Philippines as Filipinos battle another surge in virus infections likely driven by the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.
It will be delivered on Friday and Saturday, according to Huang.
Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine candidate was the one administered on President Rodrigo Duterte and members of the Presidential Security Group.
Since its vaccine rollout on March 1, the Philippines has been able to administer over 29.1 million virus jabs, of which 16.2 million are first doses.
Nearly 12.9 million people, meanwhile, are fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, government data showed as of Wednesday. The government aims to fully vaccinate some 70 million at the most this year to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
Aside from Sinovac's product, vaccine candidates from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Institute, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna have been used in the country's vaccination program.
More than a year and a half into the pandemic, reported coronavirus infections in the Philippines have soared to more than 1.79 million, the second highest in Southeast Asia, while deaths reached nearly 31,000.
- with reports from Job Manahan and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News