By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Free Malaysia Today

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced Sunday that 25 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from Chinese firm Sinovac, with an initial batch delivery by February, are secured by the government.

According to Duque, the next batches are expected by end of 2021, to complement those from Britain’s AstraZeneca.

"We sealed the deal with Sinovac for 25 million with early 50,000 doses by February, 950,000 by March and 2 to 3 million in succeeding months 'til December with 25 million doses. This is in addition to AstraZeneca as confirmed by Sec. Galvez," he was quoted as saying in a report by Mai Bermudez on GMA's "24 Oras Weekend" on Sunday.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the country targets to inoculate 50 to 70 million individuals this year.

"We hope to close the deal with these companies this month," he said, as other government officials earlier said the country would have already had the shipment this January if not for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who dropped the ball and failed to submit the necessary documents.

Earlier, Duque said “there is no such dropping the ball” as such negotiations are still ongoing.

The Philippines has already allocated P73.2 billion for the procurement of the vaccines, with P40 billion coming from multilateral agencies, P20 billion from domestic sources, and P13.2 billion from bilateral agreements.

The private sector, meanwhile, committed to procuring 6 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca in which half of the quantity will be donated to the government.

Aside from this, the Philippines over the weekend inked the term sheet to secure 30 million doses of the Covovax vaccine to be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), which has partnered with Faberco Life Sciences Inc. as its Philippine partner.