More and more countries around the world have begun their programs to vaccinate citizens against COVID-19, using the wide variety of vaccines developed by many different pharmaceutical companies. The one exception so far is the Philippines, having only negotiated deals with the vaccine-makers but no solid timetable on when the vaccines will arrive. This much is true of COVID vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, with world powers getting priority deliveries leading to shortages. The Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac has promised the earliest possible vaccine delivery, despite outside studies pointing out their lower efficacy rate compared to the delayed Pfizer/AstraZeneca shipments.
How early will the Sinovac COVID vaccine get to the Philippines? How about next Sunday? That, CNN Philippines reports, is the confident deadline set by Sinovac Biotech for when the first deliveries of their CoronaVac vaccine in the country, as relayed by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing this Thursday, February 25. No less than 600,000 doses of CoronaVac are expected. Sinovac originally estimated their arrival last Tuesday, February 23, but are now pegging the date to be no later than Sunday, February 28. “In three days, the vaccine will finally arrive,” says Roque. “We are expecting by this Sunday. That would be Sinovac. We are all excited.”
Sinovac’s Sunday delivery timetable is reinforced by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian. “It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times,” noted Ambassador Huang in his own statement. “The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries.” The CoronaVac shipment will be met by key government officials and, apparently, President Rodrigo Duterte himself, in a gesture of gratitude for China coming through when Western-made COVID vaccines have taken too long.
As already stated in earlier information briefings by the government, the first COVID vaccines will be used on priority personnel such as health workers and even the military. Since the vaccine requires a double dose, it is estimated that the 600,000 initial doses of CoronaVac from Sinovac Biotech will be distributed to about 250,000 health workers and 50,000 soldiers. The latter are mandated by orders to be vaccinated against COVID, but they can choose to defer being injected with Coronavac and wait for other vaccines. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration gave Coronavac its Emergency Use Authorization Monday, February 22.
Image from The Boston Globe