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Philippines' Duterte thanks China for offering COVID-19 vaccines

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-03-02 09:58
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds a vial of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac as the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrives in the country, at Villamor Air Base, Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, Feb 28, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte thanked China again for donating a batch of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac to the Philippines.

"From the bottom of my heart and with immense gratitude, I thank you, the Chinese people and government, for being so generous," Duterte said during a televised public address on Monday night.

A batch of the Sinovac vaccines donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, the first COVID-19 vaccine to reach the Southeast Asian country. Duterte went to the airport to welcome the arrival of the vaccines.

Duterte said receiving the vaccines from China made another step forward in the Philippines' ongoing fight against COVID-19.

"I convey my sincere gratitude to the Chinese people and the government of China for this gesture of friendship and solidarity - the hallmark of the Philippines-China partnership," Duterte said in a speech.

The Philippines launched its coronavirus vaccination drive on Monday morning, less than a day after the arrival of the Chinese vaccines.

Duterte has said China's donations would greatly help the Philippine economy recover after the vaccine rollout begins.

The Philippines has confirmed 578,381 COVID-19 cases, including 12,322 deaths.

The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity, starting with health care workers, the elderly and the poor communities. The Philippines has about a population of 110 million people.

The Philippines is also in discussion with different pharmaceutical firms to buy over 160 million vaccine doses this year, including Sinovac.

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