Govt OKs use of latest China-donated vaccines to ‘NCR Plus’, Cebu, Davao

THE government has allowed the use of the second batch of Sinovac vaccines donated by China to areas worst hit by new, more contagious variants of the disease, Malacañang said on Friday.

In a virtual press briefing, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said that the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) decided on the allocation of 400,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech that arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday.

“Ibibigay ang karamihan nito doon sa mga pinakaapektado ng new variants kasama na po ang NCR Plus, at ang Cebu at ang Davao (Most of these vaccines will be given to those which are most affected by new variants, including NCR [National Capital Region] Plus, Cebu and Davao),” Roque said, quoting vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

Metro Manila and neighboring provinces Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna were placed in a bubble set-up until April 4 in the hopes that two weeks of slightly stricter restrictions can curb the surge of new Covid-19 cases.

The Philippines on Wednesday received 400,000 doses more of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine donated by Beijing, in addition to the 600,000 doses that arrived last month.

On March 1, the country started vaccinating health workers using at least a million vaccine doses donated by China and the World Health Organization-led Covax facility.

The Philippines previously received 525,600 doses from British-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca through the Covax facility.

Between March 24 and March 26, over 979,200 more AstraZeneca doses via Covax will be shipped to the country.

One million more Sinovac doses purchased by the Philippine government are also expected to arrive on March 29.

While initial doses from Sinovac and AstraZeneca are currently being rolled out in the county, Galvez said the government was keen on the ongoing negotiations with different pharmaceutical companies, “all towards ensuring that the country secures enough doses to vaccinate 70 million of the population in order to achieve herd immunity.”

Aside from Sinovac, other Covid-19 vaccines issued emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration were Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V.