Philippines Clears Sinovac Shots, But Not for Health Workers

The Philippines approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus shots for emergency use, paving the way for the nation to get its first vaccine shipment of 600,000 doses possibly within days.

The Chinese developer’s shots may be effective to prevent Covid-19 and can be used for healthy persons ages 18 to 59, Food and Drug Administration head Eric Domingo said. It isn’t recommended for health workers frequently exposed to the virus due to its 50.4% efficacy for this group, he said in a briefing Monday.

Sinovac had asked for three to five days to ready shipments to the Philippines, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in the same briefing. The Southeast Asian nation, which has pivoted toward China under President Rodrigo Duterte, is seeking 25 million doses from Sinovac this year to support its goal of inoculating as many as 70% of its population this year.

The first Sinovac shots will likely be administered to soldiers and other non-health front-line workers like supermarket employees, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a separate briefing. Duterte may only allow face-to-face classes once vaccines are rolled out, he said.

Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and AstraZeneca Plc. vaccines were earlier approved by Philippine regulators for limited use, with health workers as priority. The government said it has ordered enough shots for its 2021 vaccination program to help recover from last year’s record economic contraction.

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