The Philippines got its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses on Sunday, a day before its inoculation drive is scheduled to begin, in a shipment donated by China, but President Rodrigo Duterte will not be among the first to be vaccinated. Duterte, who will turn 77 this month, said at a press conference that while he wants to be vaccinated, his doctor wants him to get a different Chinese type of vaccine.
A Chinese military transport plane carrying 600,000 vaccine doses donated by China landed at a capital airbase. In a televised ceremony, President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials expressed relief and thanked Beijing for the vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in China.
Vaccinations of health workers and top officials, led by the health secretary, began today in six hospitals across Metro Manila. Aside from the donated Sinovac vaccine, the government has placed a separate order with the Chinese company for 25 million doses. Due to supply concerns, the delivery of an initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which was originally scheduled for Monday, would be postponed by a week, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
The initial supplies are just a fraction of the 148 million doses the government has been negotiating with Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free as part of a major initiative. The majority of the vaccine shipments will arrive later this year.
Despite obtaining emergency use approval from IATF, experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously cautioned against its use by health workers due to high COVID-19 exposure. The Sinovac vaccine had a 50.4 percent efficacy rate in trials involving healthcare workers in Brazil, but it had a 65.3 percent to 91.2 percent efficacy rate in Phase 3 trials for healthy people aged 18 to 59.