MANILA, Mar 1 (Mabuhay) — The 600,000 doses of Sinovac-made vaccines finally arrived in Manila on Sunday as part of China’s commitment to supporting the Philippines’ vaccination rollout.

The Chinese military plane carrying the donated vials called CoronaVac landed at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City past 4 p.m. and was welcomed by several Cabinet members.

President Rodrigo Duterte also witnessed the historic event and inspected the crates containing the vials, the first-ever to arrive in the Philippines, during its ceremonial turnover to the Philippine government.

In his speech, Duterte thanked the Chinese government for the vaccine donation, confident that more batches of vaccines will be available at the earliest possible opportunity.

“I convey my sincere gratitude to the Chinese people and the government of China for this gesture of friendship and solidarity – the hallmark of Philippines-China partnership,” he said.

Duterte also reiterated his statement that Covid-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike

“No nation – no people – should be left to suffer the ravages of this pandemic for whatever reason,” he said.

Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said at least 100,000 of the total doses are donations made by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Despite the increasing domestic need for vaccines, China has decided to donate vaccines to the Philippines and more Chinese vaccines procured by the Philippine government will surely come soon as expected,” he said. “I hope that the vaccines will help kick off the Philippines’ mass inoculation campaign to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos to return to normal life at the earliest.”

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, also thanked China for its donation and its “consistent support” to the Philippines throughout the pandemic.

“This comes at much needed time as the Philippines is preparing to face the herculean task of mounting the largest-ever immunization program in terms of scale in our history,” he said.

Also present during the turnover event are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Senator Christopher Go, Testing Czar Secretary Vince Dizon, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

In a separate speech, Galvez said the delivery of the Chinese vaccines is yet another “testament of the strong bilateral relationship” between the two nations.

“Our countries have been long-time allies and we are pleased that this partnership remains strong as ever as we fight this global pandemic,” he said.

Sinovac’s CoronaVac is the third Covid-19 vaccine brand aside from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

From Villamor Airbase, the vaccine would be transported to cold storage facilities, including at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Metropac Logistics in Marikina City.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Manila, Sinovac has also secured an EUA in almost 20 countries, including China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia. (MNS)