In an announcement, the National Task Force against COVID-19 said 1 million doses arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 7:36 am.
The doses are enough to fully vaccinate half a million people, as the Sinovac jabs require two doses, with an interval of two to four weeks.
The new batch raises the total number of Sinovac vaccine doses received by the Philippines to 6.5 million.
Arriving onboard a Cebu Pacific flight, the shipment was welcomed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. It is part of the 25 million Sinovac doses purchased by the Philippine government, which has been cultivating warmer ties with China under President Rodrigo Duterte.
The arrival comes just days after the the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use.
The independent panel of experts said in a statement that it recommended Sinovac for adults over 18, with a second dose 2-4 weeks later. There was no upper age limit as data suggested it is likely to have a protective effect in older people.
Sinovac – also called CoronaVac – is the second Chinese-made vaccine to be approved by the WHO, following the approval of the Sinopharm vaccine in May.
The Philippines is aiming to reach herd immunity by the end of 2021, but probing lawmakers have raised the alarm that the current sluggish pace of vaccination would prevent such a scenario. To reach herd immunity, the country has to fully vaccinate at least 70 million people.
As of May 30, only 1.2 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, while 3,974,350 have received their first dose. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.