THE COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd. will be the first to be rolled out under the government’s mass immunization program, the Palace announced Thursday.
“The target remains that Sinovac will be the first that we can use to vaccinate our people and it will be in the first quarter of next year,” Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said in a briefing on Thursday.
He added this is based on the plan of Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., the appointed vaccine czar who is leading the procurement and distribution program.
The announcement comes amid the resurgence of reports on the company’s history of bribery allegations.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said they will conduct an investigation on these concerns.
Mr. Roque said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has complete trust that the head of the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Rolando Enrique C. Domingo, will ensure the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines that will be dispensed by the government.
In a separate briefing Thursday, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato S. Dela Pena said Sinovac and Clover Biopharmaceuticals have already received approval from the government’s vaccine expert panel and the ethics board.
AstraZeneca plc and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have also both been granted approval by the ethics committee but are still awaiting results from the expert panel’s evaluation.
The country continues to record over 1,000 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases daily with the Department of Health (DoH) reporting 1,383 on Thursday, bringing the total to 445,540. The death toll rose by 24 to 8,701. Recoveries increased by 133 to 409,058, it said in a bulletin.
There were 27,781 active cases, 85.5% of which were mild, 6.7% did not show symptoms, 5% were critical, 2.5% severe, and 0.25% moderate.
Quezon City had the highest number of new cases at 83, followed by Laguna at 75, Manila at 68, Bulacan at 65, and Davao City at 61.
Seven duplicates were removed from the total case count while 11 cases previously tagged as recovered were reclassified as deaths.
Nine laboratories failed to submit their data on Dec. 9, the
DoH said. About 5.7 individuals have been tested as of Dec. 8, according to the COVID-19 tracker website. — Gillian M. Cortez and Vann Marlo M. Villegas