MANILA, Mar 3 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte will personally receive the arrival of the expected 3.5 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Roque made the announcement two days after the government started its vaccination program using China’s Sinovac vaccine.

“He’s on standby, to being in the airport to receive the delivery of the COVAX vaccine,  AstraZeneca, kung kailan po ito mangyayari ‘no. Kahapon po nagbigay siya ng order, sabihin lang sa kanya kung kailan darating at sasalubong din po siya,” Roque said.

“Uuwi siya ng Maynila kung siya’y nasa Davao at sasalubong din siya sa AstraZeneca. Dahil kung dumating, kinakailangan pasalamatan din natin ang WHO (World Health Organization) at ang gobyerno po ng Inglatera dahil talagang itong papasok po at darating na COVAX facility allocation ng AstraZeneca ay dahil po sa intercession ni Ambassador [Daniel] Pruce ng United Kingdom,” Roque added.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., however, said on Monday that the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility has no definite date yet due to lack of supply.

COVAX is a global effort led by the WHO wherein wealthier nations pitch in to aid developing countries’ in battling COVID-19 pandemic, including access to COVID-19 vaccines.

After Galvez made such statement, WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said on Tuesday that the delay was due to logistical challenge of transporting large shipment of vaccines requiring cold storage.

Only the 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government are the ones available for use in the Philippines since these were the only supply which already arrived in the country.

President Duterte was physically present when the 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the country on Sunday afternoon, thanking China for such gesture of friendship and solidarity.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended Sinovac for those clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old since its efficacy rate reached 65% to 91% in this age group.

The FDA, however, did not recommend Sinovac on health workers since its efficacy rate on this group only reached 50.4%. (MNS)

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