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600K doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 jabs to arrive on Feb. 23

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The Philippines is set to receive 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine donated by China on February 23, a portion of which will be administered to military personnel, Malacañang announced Thursday

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the vaccine shots’ arrival is “certain” and 100,000 doses of those vaccines were reserved for the Department of National Defense.

“The arrival of vaccines from China’s Sinovac is carved on stone. It would be on the 23rd of February,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

The arrival of the shipment, however, does not mean that the Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab can be immediately used for the country’s immunization program since it has yet to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“It will be stored until such time that it is approved. If it is not issued EUA, it will be sent back,” Roque said.

So far, only vaccines developed by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, as well as those made by American pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, have been approved for emergency use in the country.

The FDA is waiting for China’s Sinovac Biotech to complete its requirements before vaccine experts could decide on their EUA application, director general Eric Domingo said in a briefing Wednesday.

The country is expecting a total of 25 million vaccine doses from Sinovac this year, Roque earlier said.

Data from Sinovac’s Phase 3 trials conducted in Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and China have shown four different efficacy results, ranging from 50.4 percent to 90 percent.

Sinovac’s vaccines showed “general efficacy” of 50.4 percent in a late-stage trial in Brazil — barely passing the threshold set by the World Health Organization for widespread use.

On the other hand, it recorded 91.25 percent and 65 percent efficacy rates in small clinical trials in Turkey and Indonesia, respectively.

Sinovac’s executives defended the low efficacy rate of its vaccine in Brazil, arguing that their participants are medical workers facing a high-risk of contracting Covid-19.=

The Philippines aims to start its mass vaccination program using 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine secured through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing facility, which are also due to be delivered this month.

The government has negotiated supply agreements with Moderna, Gamaleya, Janssen, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Novavax for 148 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, the bulk of which is expected to arrive in the second and third quarters of this year.

It is aiming this year to inoculate 70 million adults, or two-thirds of the country’s 108 million people, to achieve herd immunity.

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