THE PHILIPPINES will take delivery of 600,000 coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech on Feb. 23, according to the presidential palace.
Of the initial batch, Beijing will donate 100,000 doses to the Philippine military, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. told an online news briefing on Thursday.
The country also expects to take delivery of 117,000 doses of Pfizer, Inc. vaccines under a global initiative for equal access this month, he added.
The local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Sinovac has yet to get approval for emergency use.
Sinovac’s vaccines would be stored until their use is approved, Mr. Roque said. The vaccines would be sent back if these don’t get approved.
Mr. Roque said China’s vaccine donation would not affect its sea dispute with the Philippines.
The Chinese government in January said it would donate 500,000 vaccine doses to the country.
Mr. Roque said the FDA had given the Presidential Security Group (PSG) a “compassionate permit” for the use of 10,000 doses of vaccines developed by another Chinese drug maker, Sinopharm Group Co. Ltd.
Critics earlier flagged the inoculation of presidential guards with unapproved vaccines last year. PSG members had to be vaccinated “because their job is to provide security to the President,” Mr. Roque said.
The Department of Health (DoH) reported 1,734 coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 543,282.
The death toll rose by 68 to 11,469, while recoveries increased by 423 to 500,335, it said in a bulletin.
There were 31,478 active cases, 87.6% of which were mild, 6.9% did not show symptoms, 2.5% were critical, 2.4% were severe and 0.62% were moderate.
DoH said 12 duplicates had been removed from the tally, while 52 recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Two laboratories failed to submit their data on Feb. 10.
More than 7.7 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Feb. 9, according the DoH’s tracker website.
The coronavirus has sickened about 107.9 million and killed almost 2.4 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
About 79.9 million people have recovered, it said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza