Philippines to get China-donated vaccines this month for troops, medical staff

FILE PHOTO: Health ministry prepares for COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines is set to receive 600,000 doses this month of Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine donated by China, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a regular news conference the Feb. 23 arrival of the vaccines is certain, but they would not be administered without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

So far, only shots developed by AstraZeneca and the vaccine of Pfizer and BioNTech have been approved for emergency use in the country.

Roque said regulators have allowed "compassionate use" of 10,000 doses of a vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm for President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail.

Roque said 100,000 of the 600,000 Sinovac doses will be given to soldiers and the rest for medical workers.

The Philippines aims to start its mass vaccination programme using 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine secured through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing facility, which are also due to be delivered this month.

The Philippines has negotiated supply agreements with Moderna, Gamaleya, Janssen, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Novavax for 148 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, the bulk of which are is expected to arrive in the second and third quarters of this year.

It is aiming this year to inoculate 70 million adults, or two-thirds of the country's 108 million people, to achieve herd immunity.

The Philippines has recorded 541,000 infections, including 11,400 deaths.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty)