China-made vaccines arriving on Sunday

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CORONAVIRUS vaccines from China will be arriving on Sunday, says Malacañang.

In a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to land on Philippine soil would be doses of CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccines made by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac, adding that officials of the Philippine government are set to personally welcome its arrival.

“Maraming salamat po muli sa Sinovac at sa Tsina,” he said.

Despite an advisory coming from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dissuading the use of Sinovac vaccines to frontliners, Roque hinted at the delivery as enough to cover 50,000 soldiers and 250,000 health workers, who are at the top of the priority list.

In an earlier statement, the FDA said that clinical trials of the Sinovac vaccines showed 50.4 percent efficacy and as such may not be suitable to persons who have high exposure to the virus.

“Despite the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) issued by the FDA, nilinaw po iyan ni [Director General] Dr. [Eric] Domingo na hindi po ipinagbabawal ibigay ito sa health professionals. Wala pong pilitan. Iyong gustong maghintay nga po ng ibang brand, siguro ang concession na maibibigay sa kanila is puwede silang humindi at puwede silang maghintay without losing their priority,” he added.

Meanwhile, Roquer said that AstraZeneca shots from COVAX will arrive in March.

“Ginawa ng pamahalaan ng Pilipinas ang lahat para una sana dumating ang mga western brands, kasama na ang pagpasa ng batas sa indemnity na hinihingi ng ilang mga western pharmaceuticals. Pero sa ngayon po, ang darating sa araw ng Linggo ay ang Sinovac. Ligtas po ito at epektibo,” the Palace mouthpiece averred.

Roll out of the first legal vaccination starts on Monday, he added.

“Mas importante po na mas marami na tayong mabakunahan as soon as possible dahil alam naman po natin na iba’t ibang mga bagong strain ng virus ang kumakalat ngayon at mas nakakahawa. Itutuloy po naman po natin ang pagbabakuna natin, siguro nga po, hindi nga lang iyong mga brands na gusto natin. Alam n’yo, matagal ko na pong sinabi ‘yan, hindi tayo makakapili, magagamit lang natin kung ano ‘yong available.”

Interestingly, the Department of Health and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said “specific details as to the allocation and subsequent rollout of the 600,000 donated Sinovac doses are still being evaluated.”

This requires the official recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and its approval by the inter-agency task force on COVID-19. 

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