MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will receive 25 million coronavirus vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac this year, with the initial supply arriving in February, Malacañang said despite questions on its efficacy.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, citing the Department of Health, made the announcement in a briefing Monday.
“The vaccine supply will arrive in the country next month,” Roque said in Filipino.
An initial supply of 50,000 vaccine doses from Sinovac will reach the Philippines by February. This first batch of COVID-19 jabs is on top of 15,000 doses that will be used for clinical trials in the country.
Roque said another 950,000 doses will be delivered by March, one million each will be sent by April and May, two million in June until 25 million jabs are secured by the end of the year.
During the Senate inquiry into the government’s vaccination plan, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the national government was able to seal the deal with a Chinese drugmaker for 25 million doses of its vaccine. He did not disclose more information about the said agreement.
The efficacy of Sinovac’s vaccine CoronaVac has been a subject of uncertainty. In a Brazilian study, the vaccine showed effectiveness of 78% in Phase 3 trials with 13,000 volunteers. Turkey also said last month that the vaccine had shown effectiveness of 91.25% in late-stage evaluation.
But the Chinese firm has not yet released worldwide results from the tests, which are also being done in Chile and Indonesia.
The initially reported efficacy rate of the Sinovac jabs in Brazil study was well below the efficacy of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Palace, however, insisted that Sinovac’s vaccine is proven safe and efficient.
Coronavac is easier to deploy because it does not require ultra cold storage. But it is the second most expensive among those being eyed by the national government for procurement.
The national government also signed a term sheet over the weekend to secure the supply of 30 million doses of Covovax vaccine developed by Serum Institute of India and US-based Novavax.
The price of the vaccine has not been finalized, but the doses are expected to be available starting the third quarter of the year.
It previously signed a deal with AstraZeneca for 2.6 million doses, which was made possible through the donations of some 30 private companies.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 in 2021 alone but it depends on the global supply, which had been mostly procured by wealthy nations.— Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Agence France-Presse