Malacañang on Thursday announced that the donated 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech are expected to arrive in the Philippines on Sunday, with the rollout seen to start the following day.
"Inaasahan na darating sa araw ng Linggo, itong Linggong ito, ang Sinovac. Kaya excited na tayong lahat," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced in a press briefing.
"Inaasahan at least ang pinaplano natin ay sasalubungin ng mga opisyal ang pagdating ng mga bakuna," he added.
Roque said the government only needs one day to prepare for the rollout of the vaccine after it arrives.
"If it arrives on Sunday, if I'm not mistaken, then we can roll out on Monday dahil excited na ang maraming kababayan natin," he said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for Sinovac’s vaccine, the third one after vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
FDA director general Dr. Eric Domingo on Monday said Sinovac’s efficacy ranged from 65.3% to 91.2% but only reached 50.4% among health workers with COVID-19 exposure.
This makes it not recommended for health workers, he added.
"This should be administered by vaccination providers and to prevent COVID-19 in clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old,” Domingo had said.
However, Domingo clarified on Tuesday that health workers can still choose to get vaccinated with Sinovac since they merely made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.
"What we did was a recommendation… We don’t say that it’s not illegal or they’re not allowed to use it. We just say, if they’re gonna use it, they should know that the efficacy rate for health workers treating COVID-19 [patients] is at 50%,” he told ANC in an interview.
Roque earlier stressed that Sinovac is "not a low quality vaccine" even if the two other COVID-19 vaccine brands issued EUA registered a higher efficacy rate, ranging from 70% to 95%, and thus can be used for health workers.
"It is not a low quality vaccine. It is better than no protection. Ang iniiwasan po talaga natin iyong pagkakasakit ng seryoso o nakamamatay,” Roque said, adding Sinovac's vaccine passed the standards of the World Health Organization. —KBK, GMA News