The Philippines on Monday received the first tranche of 1 million CoronaVac vaccine doses out of the total 25 million doses procured by the national government from vaccine manufacturer SINOVAC.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, National Task Force against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. (NTF Vaccine Czar), and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian received the vaccine doses at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

“The arrival of these vaccines is great news as we are beginning to see the fruits of our negotiation efforts after months of hard work to provide vaccines for our people. This is but the first of the many other doses we have negotiated in order to achieve our goal of herd immunity,” Vaccine Czar Sec. Galvez said.

“We are expecting the delivery of around 1.5 to 4 million of the remaining procured doses from SINOVAC by April and May 2021 together with the additional 979,200 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the WHO-led COVAX facility. These will allow the country to further expand coverage of our vaccination program,” Sec. Galvez added.

The remaining 24 million CoronaVac doses procured by the national government are scheduled to arrive in the following months. With the arrival of both procured vaccines and vaccines from the COVAX Facility, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program is expected to ramp up as the government recently approved the simultaneous rollout of vaccination to priority groups A1 to A3.

“The arrival of these vaccines is very timely. As we finish vaccinating healthcare 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. This is most crucial especially now that NCR+ or the Greater Manila Area is experiencing a surge,” Sec. Duque said.

Additionally, the Department of Health (DOH) maintains that the COVID-19 vaccine is only an added protection to our existing preventive measures such as the Intensified Public Health Measures. “Even with the arrival of vaccine supplies, we continue to call for the public’s cooperation in this fight against the pandemic. While COVID-19 remains a public health emergency, a great deal of caution and vigilance shall still take place to ensure everyone’s protection from this disease,” Sec. Duque remarked.