Palace: 400,000 Sinovac jabs strictly for medical workers in virus hotspots

The 400,000 doses of anti-coronavirus vaccine donated by China would be administered to health workers in areas with high Covid-19 cases and more contagious variants, Malacañang said Friday.

The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) decided to give 400,000 doses of Sinovac’s vaccines to medical front liners in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, as well Cebu and Davao cities, said Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque.

“We would distribute the vaccines as soon as possible. Until we have vaccinated all health workers, they will remain our priority in receiving shots,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

The vaccine shots arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday, raising China’s donation to one million doses.

Beijing earlier shipped 600,000 vaccine doses — the first jabs used for the country’s vaccination drive.

The Philippines also earlier received 525,600 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Britain’s AstraZeneca, sourced from global vaccine-sharing pool COVAX Facility.

Additional 979,200 AstraZeneca doses and one million doses from Sinovac are expected to arrive in the country before the end of March.

The government has earlier placed Metro Manila, Bulacan Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under a bubble setup in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19.

The National Capital Region (NCR) remains the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines and has detected new Covid-19 variants in all its 17 cities.

At least 508,332 Filipinos received anti-coronavirus vaccines during the first 23 days of the country’s inoculation drive, according to the health department’s bulletin.

It is equivalent to 41 percent of the 1.2 million shortlisted medical front liners in the Philippines.

The vaccination drive has been marred by controversies, after government officials received shots reserved for health workers.

President Duterte has earlier warned that skipping the vaccine line could jeopardize the country’s supply of anti-coronavirus jabs from the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility, since following a prioritization list is a pre-requisite set by the global sharing pool.

The health workers, the elderly, and persons with medical conditions should be vaccinated first before the rest of the population.

“In times like this, when we are only the donee (sic) of the donor, and we received it with the conditions that need to be followed, we should keep in mind what the WHO country representative told us, ‘If we do not follow the list of priority, we might lose the assistance of the WHO,’” Duterte said.

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