Containers of the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 vaccine arrive on a Chinese military aircraft in Manila, on Feb. 28. Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after President Rodrigo Duterte and other top officials received 600,000 doses on Sunday of COVID-19 vaccine donated by China. At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the hospital director, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, was inoculated first by a nurse in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials. “Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after health workers have been immunized.
The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive its first batch of vaccine due to delivery delays although it has reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back Manila’s economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger.
“Our economy is really down, as in down so the earlier these vaccinations gain speed, the better,” Duterte told a televised news conference late Sunday after witnessing the delivery of the Chinese-donated vaccine at an air base in the capital.
President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that he’s considering further easing virus restrictions once the nation’s vaccine stockpile reaches 2 million, and once shots reach the countryside. “Once I see that we have many vaccines, I will open everything,” he said.
Almost half of Filipinos however are not inclined to get a Covid-19 vaccine mainly due to safety concerns, according to survey released January. Public trust in China has also been consistently low, even as Duterte built warm ties with Beijing.
Aside from China’s donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company but no fixed date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery of an initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems.- ABC News