As cases surge, Philippines ramps up vaccine drive courtesy of China

Sinovac vaccine
Sinovac vaccine

dpa/GNA – The Philippines expects to ramp up its vaccination drive with the arrival Monday of the first batch of government-purchased doses as more than 10,000 fresh Covid-19 cases, a new record, were tallied and a lockdown reimposed in Manila.

President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the arrival of the first tranche of 1 million Covid-19 doses vaccines purchased from China. A total 25 million doses was being procured by the national government from vaccine manufacturer Sinovac.

Earlier this month, the country kicked off its vaccination programme with more than 1.5 million supplies donated by China and the World Health Organization’s Covax facility but only health workers were lined up for the jabs.

“The arrival of these vaccines is very timely. As we finish vaccinating health care frontliners, we will be able to use this new batch of purchased CoronaVac vaccines to extend vaccination to vulnerable Filipinos — or those with pre-existing conditions and comorbidities — who are at most risk of severe Covid-19 and highest chance of dying,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

On Monday, 10,016 cases were recorded bringing the total number of cases at 731,894 with total fatalities at 13,186. For the last 3 days, additional Covid-19 cases exceeded 9,000 daily.

Starting Monday until Sunday, April 4, metropolitan Manila and four nearby provinces are under strict lockdown.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque blamed the new variants for the surge of new cases.

“The new variants are not deadlier but they are more transmissible, and that cannot be denied,” Roque said on Monday.

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