(UPDATE) The Philippines in February will receive its initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines from China, Malacañang said Monday, paving the way for the start of immunization efforts.
An initial 50,000 doses of vaccines from China's Sinovac will arrive next month, part of the secured 25 million doses of the drug, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
"Dadating na ang bakuna sa Pilipinas sa susunod na buwan," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
"Huwag naman kayo masyado mag-celebrate diyan dahil ang paunang darating po ay 50,000 doses lang ng vaccine galing sa Sinovac. Pero at least, magsisimula na rin po tayo," he added.
COVID-19 immunization czar Carlito Galvez Jr. had previously said that Manila's initial supply of vaccines could come from China, where the rapidly spreading disease was first reported in late 2019.
Earlier, Health Usec. Rosario Vergeire said at least two brands of COVID-19 vaccines could be delivered to the Philippines by next month but refused to disclose the labels.
So far, the national government has signed two vaccine deals--one with British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca for 2.6 million doses of its vaccine developed with Oxford University, and another with US drug maker Novavax for the purchase of 30 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine called Covovax.
The Philippines is eyeing to start its mass immunization program by late March, global supply permitting. It hopes to secure 148 million doses this year from seven companies -- enough for around 70% of its population.