With countries in Southeast Asia starting their COVID-19 immunization campaigns, it’s just natural for Pinoys to express frustration over the fact that the much-needed drug has yet to arrive on our shores. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said today, however, that two brands of coronavirus vaccines will be delivered in the Philippines next month.
“There are two kinds of vaccines that can be available by February already. Let’s wait for vaccine czar [Carlito Galvez Jr. to announce]. I hope you understand he’s the one authorized to provide this kind of information,” she said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
Vergeire declined to identify the vaccines that the government has acquired.
“As early as February we might be receiving the deliveries of [these] vaccine[s],” she said.
Over the weekend, the government signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India to acquire 30 million doses of the vaccine Covovax. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque announced yesterday that the government has procured about 25 million doses of the controversial China-made vaccine Sinovac, with the first batch of delivery to be made next month.
A former government advisor, Dr. Tony Leachon, has questioned the Duterte government’s procurement of Sinovac, saying that the drug’s safety and efficacy were questionable. Clinical trials conducted in Turkey showed Sinovac to be at least 91% effective, while tests done in Brazil showed it to be 78% effective.
The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 487,690 recorded as of yesterday, including 458,198 recoveries and 9,405 deaths.