By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The 600,000 doses coronavirus vaccines from Sinovac Biotech — which donated by Chinese government — are expected to arrive in the Philippines on Sunday, Malacañang announced Thursday.

"Inaasahan na darating sa araw ng Linggo, itong Linggong ito, ang Sinovac. Kaya excited na tayong lahat," Presidential spokesman Harry Roques said in a press briefing.

"Inaasahan at least ang pinaplano natin ay sasalubungin ng mga opisyal ang pagdating ng mga bakuna," he added.

According to Roque, the government only needs one day to prepare for inoculation drive after the arrival of doses.

"If it arrives on Sunday, if I'm not mistaken, then we can roll out on Monday dahil excited na ang maraming kababayan natin," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization for Sinovac vaccine, the third brand after vaccines from western companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

FDA director general Dr. Eric Domingo on Monday said Sinovac’s efficacy ranged from 65.3% to 91.2% but only reached 50.4% among health workers with COVID-19 exposure.

This makes it not recommended for health workers, he added.

"This should be administered by vaccination providers and to prevent COVID-19 in clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old,” Domingo said.

Domingo, however, clarified the health workers can still choose to get inoculated with Sinovac since they only made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.

"What we did was a recommendation… We don’t say that it’s not illegal or they’re not allowed to use it. We just say, if they’re gonna use it, they should know that the efficacy rate for health workers treating COVID-19 [patients] is at 50%,” Domingo said in an interview over ANC.

Earlier, Roque stressed Sinovac is “not a low quality vaccine” even if the other vaccine brands that have secured an EUA registered higher rate of efficacy, ranging from 70% to 95%, suitable among healthcare workers.

"It is not a low quality vaccine. It is better than no protection. Ang iniiwasan po talaga natin iyong pagkakasakit ng seryoso o nakamamatay,” Roque said, adding Sinovac's vaccine passed the standards of the World Health Organization.