Philippines receives new Sinovac shipment as supplies dwindle

The Philippines on Thursday, April 29, received 500,000 more doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac, bringing the country’s total stockpile of the vaccine so far to 3.5 million. 

The shipment arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 7:35 am via a commercial Cebu Pacific flight. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr welcomed the arrival, along with other government officials. 

The arrival of the new Sinovac shipments completed 1.5 million doses scheduled for delivery to the Philippines in April. The doses are part of those procured by the government for its mass vaccine campaign against COVID-19. 

Sinovac’s vaccine is one of two main vaccines currently being used in the Philippine’s vaccine program, along with AstraZeneca’s vaccine, as other shots ordered by the country have yet to arrive. After all 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccines supplied by the COVAX facility were used up weeks ago, however, Sinovac is currently the only vaccine being widely used in the Philippines. 

This latest delivery is part of the total 25 million CoronaVac doses purchased by the Philippine government. Of the 3.5 million CoronaVac doses now in the country, 2.5 million were procured, while one million doses were donated by the Chinese government.

Galvez said the new shipment of vaccines will be “distributed immediately” to areas that are experiencing high cases of COVID-19. Earlier supplies of Sinovac vaccines recently delivered to the Philippines in April 22 saw delays in its distribution to local government units in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the country’s pandemic, due to paperwork issues.

The Philippines is currently vaccinating its first 3 priority groups, including medical workers, senior citizens, and and persons with comorbidities. 

After initially recommending against the use of CoronaVac among the elderly, the Phiippines' Food and Drug Administration has allowed it, with health officials saying the benefits of getting the shot outweigh the risks as the Philippines faces a lack of available vaccines while infections soar.

Thea arrival of more Sinovac vaccines completes the country’s expected deliveries for April.

On Wednesday, April 28, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was supposed to arrive, but this was delayed due to logistical concerns, Malacañang said. The delivery is now expected in May, along with more Sinovac doses, and vaccines from COVAX and possibly Moderna. – Rappler.com

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.

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