Provide your email for confirmation

Tell us a bit about yourself

country *

Please provide your email address

welcome to Rappler

Login

To share your thoughts

Don't have an account?

Login with email

Check your inbox

We just sent a link to your inbox. Click the link to continue signing in. Can’t find it? Check your spam & junk mail.

Didn't get a link?

Use password?

Login with email

Reset password?

Please use the email you used to register and we will send you a link to reset your password

Check your inbox

We just sent a link to your inbox. Click the link to continue resetting your password. Can’t find it? Check your spam & junk mail.

Didn't get a link?

Sign up

Ready to get started

Already have an account?

Sign up with email

By signing up you agree to Rappler’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy

Check your inbox

We just sent a link to your inbox. Click the link to continue registering. Can’t find it? Check your spam & junk mail.

Didn't get a link?

Join Rappler+

Join Move

How often would you like to pay?

Annual Subscription

Monthly Subscription

Your payment was interrupted

Exiting the registration flow at this point will mean you will loose your progress

Your payment didn’t go through

Exiting the registration flow at this point will mean you will loose your progress

welcome to Rappler+

welcome to Move

welcome to Move & Rappler+

Philippines receives first COVID-19 vaccine delivery from Sinovac

The Philippines' first batch of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the country on Sunday, February 28, paving the way for the start of its mass inoculation campaign with shots developed by China's Sinovac Biotech.

The aircraft carrying the vaccines – a transport plane of the People's Liberation Army of China – landed at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City around 4:10 pm on Sunday.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. That is light at the end of the tunnel," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview with state-run network PTV. "At least nagsimula na po tayo. At tuluy-tuloy na po." (At least we have started. And this will continue.)

The delivery of 600,000 doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac – a donation from the Chinese government – was set to be witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr at the Villamor Air Base.

Malacañang earlier hailed the delivery of Sinovac's vaccine, which would be used to jump-start the country's vaccination campaign in several hospitals across Metro Manila.

Though the Duterte government had targeted to start distributing vaccines by February, the Philippines is now among the last countries in Southeast Asia to start vaccinating its residents. It was the last to receive vaccine doses in the region.

The arrival of the vaccine comes days after the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for CoronaVac last Monday, February 22.

Sinovac is the latest to be granted emergency approval in the Philippines, though its vaccine is the first to arrive after delays in paperwork stalled vaccines from the global COVAX Facility which were initially supposed to arrive in mid-February.

China first announced it would donate vaccines to Filipinos during the official visit of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Manila last January.

Senator Bong Go, former presidential aide, said on Sunday that Galvez, Duque, and other Cabinet secretaries will be among the first government officials to be vaccinated with Sinovac on Monday, March 1.

Duterte, 75, will not be receiving Sinovac as the FDA, along with government experts, did not recommend its use for senior citizens or those 60 years old and above. Data from late-stage trials had mostly been gathered from participants 18 to 59 years old.

"To my fellow Filipinos, these vaccines are backed by science and deliberated by our Filipino experts. I encourage that you get vaccinated at the soonest possible time and be a partner in preventing the further spread of the disease," Duterte said in a speech.

Health workers go first

Aside from several government officials, health workers were identified as a priority to receive the Sinovac vaccine.

In a press conference later on Sunday, Duterte said health workers who refuse to take Sinovac “have a choice,” and can wait for the other vaccines that are set to arrive in the country.

Kung ayaw nila ng Sinovac, maghintay sila,” he said. “In a few days, there has been quite a… basta I was assured that [AstraZeneca] would be coming within the next few days.” 

At least 525,600 doses of vaccines developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford is expected to arrive in a week, after it was postponed from March 1.

In issuing Sinovac an EUA, the FDA said data from Phase 3 trials in Brazil, where a lower efficacy of 50.4% was observed, led experts not to recommend its use for priority groups. The Brazil trials involved health workers exposed to COVID-19.

The recommendation spurred days-long deliberations among experts part of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, who later approved the use of the vaccine for health workers, reiterating it is safe and effective.

With vaccine supply scarce and delivery of different brands uncertain, experts said health workers should be given the chance to receive an available vaccine since they are most exposed to COVID-19. In the meantime, health workers who will refuse to get Sinovac were given assurances they would not lose their place in the government's prioritization. 

The FDA granted emergency approval to Sinovac after separate Phase 3 trials in Indonesia and Turkey demonstrated efficacy of 65.3% to 91.2%. These trials were done mostly in community settings and not among health workers who were exposed to COVID-19.

Aside from the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Laos have granted emergency authorization for Sinovac's CoronaVac. – with reports from Rambo Talabong/Rappler.com

Editors Note: An earlier version of this story stated the Philippines was the last to start its vaccination campaign. We have corrected this to state the Philippines was the last to receive vaccine doses.

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

image