China gives Philippines half million vaccines to support Philippines in Covid fight

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (centre) welcomes Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a courtesy call at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on Saturday. AFP

Beijing’s top diplomat pledged on January 16 to donate half a million coronavirus vaccine shots to the Philippines, Manila officials said – despite growing resistance there to Chinese-made jabs over concerns about their efficacy.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration is scrambling to lock in supplies of Covid-19 vaccines for the country’s 110 million people, after being criticised for being too slow off the mark in the global race to procure the drugs.

Among other deals, the Philippines has already agreed to buy 25 million doses of Chinese company Sinovac’s Coronavac, despite the jab not having been approved by regulators in China.

It is not clear which vaccine China will donate, and whether the donation is part of that earlier deal. The Chinese embassy in Manila did not respond to request for comment.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his counterpart of the intended donation when he was in Manila on January 16, the Philippines foreign ministry said.

Duterte has actively sought closer ties with Beijing since taking power in 2016, and has defended Chinese vaccines in the face of misgivings over their effectiveness.

Although trials in Turkey found Coronavac to be 91.25 per cent effective, other, more robust trials in Brazil only demonstrated an efficacy rate of around 50 per cent.

Duterte came under fire last month after he revealed that members of his security team had been given a jab made by another Chinese company, Sinopharm, even though it had not been approved for use.

Nearly half a million people have been infected with the virus in the Philippines, with almost 10,000 fatalities.

Health officials have warned of a possible spike in cases following the Christmas holidays, religious parades and a confirmed case of the more infectious strain first identified in Britain.