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First shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Philippines

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The Chinese government’s donation of 600,000 coronavirus vaccine doses from Sinovac arrived on Philippine soil on Sunday, making the Philippines the last country in Southeast Asia to reach the pandemic milestone of receiving a legitimate vaccine shipment.

The shipment arrived at the Villamor Airbase on a Chinese Y-20 Transporter aircraft a little past 4 p.m. 

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the arrival of the vaccines marked the start of the country’s inoculation program. 

The country’s first shots will be administered in several COVID-19 referral hospitals across Metro Manila on Monday. 

Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III are also scheduled to receive vaccines on Monday morning to boost public trust in the campaign. 

A poll by the OCTA Research group found that only two out of 10 Filipinos are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, mostly due to safety concerns. 

Fifty-eight percent of the survey respondents also expressed total distrust of Chinese vaccines.

Last in ASEAN

Data gathered by the GMA News Research team showed that the Philippines is the last country in Southeast Asia to receive a supply of COVID-19 vaccines. 

For presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the difference is only “a matter of days.” 

However, an epidemiologist said an earlier delivery of COVID-19 vaccines could have averted 42 health worker deaths and 3,300 infections in Metro Manila last year. 

Upward trend

The first batch of vaccines arrived as experts noted an upward trend in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. 

"New cases in NCR are expected to increase at least in the short term," OCTA Research said. "Positivity rate in NCR was 5% over the past seven days."

The Department of Health on Sunday reported 2,113 new COVID-19 cases, marking the fourth straight day of over 2,000 new infections.

Meanwhile, 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are also expected to arrive on Monday. 

The Food and Drug Administration has so far granted emergency use authorization to the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac. — BM, GMA News 

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