President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday he intends to visit China by the end of 2021 to thank his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping for donating COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines.
The vaccines from China, around 600,000 doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac, were the Philippines' first-ever shipment. Duterte received the donations where he told Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian that he would like to personally thank Xi.
"Towards, maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down, I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation," Duterte said.
The vaccine is the third to be authorized by the local Food and Drug Administration for emergency use after Pfizer's and AstraZeneca's jabs. It has been found to be up to 91.25% effective in trials in Turkey but other, more robust trials in Brazil only demonstrated an efficacy rate of around 50.4%.
The Philippines has ordered 25 million doses of the China-made jab. Other COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers are expected to arrive in the second to third quarter of the year.
The Philippines is working to negotiate orders for up to 92 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, nearly 20 million more than its initial target of 72 million.
Throughout his presidency, Duterte has sought closer ties with China despite maritime conflicts due to Beijing's refusal to recognize Manila's rights in the West Philippine Sea.