By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: PhilNews

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday does not believe that the Philippines is reportedly the last country to receive coronavirus vaccines in the ASEAN region.

In a televised media briefing, Roque said the gap of dates in vaccine delivery between Philippines and other ASEAN countries is just a “matter of days.”

"Walang ibig sabihin yan. Halos sabay-sabay dumating sa atin, at halos pare-parehas ang dumating sa atin na Sinovac," Roque said.

"I don't think we're the last. They are only 10 countries that have used the vaccine. So that disproves the fact that we are the last. The rest of the world still have to receive their vaccine," Roque added.

In the same conference, Roque announced the donated 600,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech are expected to arrive in the Philippines on Sunday.

"I guess all our prayers were answered, and I have gotten information that we are ready to receive the Sinovac vaccine this Sunday,” Roque said, when asked how come the vaccines will suddenly be arriving after days of uncertainty.

Roque said if the country insisted on getting Western brands first, it would take longer time before it will arrive in the Philippines.

"Kaya nga ang ating sinasabi, basta aprubado ng ating FDA, tanggapin natin yan na ligtas at epektibo. Talagang nag-uunahan ang buong daigdig para sa mga Western brands," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued an emergency use authorization for Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, third brand after Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo earlier said the Sinovac’s efficacy rate ranged from 65.3% to 91.2% but only reached 50.4% among healthcare workers with coronavirus disease exposure.

He added the vaccine is not recommended to healthcare workers.

Domingo, however, clarified that the healthcare workers can still choose to get inoculated with Sinovac since they merely 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 earlier interview with ANC.