MANILA — The Philippines will take delivery of its first Covid-19 vaccines at the weekend, allowing it to kick off its inoculation programme from next week, a senior official said on Thursday (Feb 25).rrDespite having among the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Asia, the Philippines will be the last Southeast Asian country to receive its initial set of vaccines.rrThe delivery of 600,000 doses Sinovac Biotech's vaccines, donated by China, will arrive on Sunday, said Mr Harry Roque, spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte.rr"It rolls out on Monday because our countrymen are excited," he said of the vaccination programme.rrAmong the first to be inoculated will be an official from a hospital who lost both parents to the coronavirus, plus a tricycle driver, Mr Roque said.rrThe Philippines has ordered 25 million doses from Sinovac and was supposed to receive its first batch on Feb 23. That was delayed emergency use authorisation was only given this week.rrAside from Sinovac, 10,000 doses of a vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm will arrive soon, under a "compassionate use" for Mr Duterte's security detail. Doses from AstraZeneca will arrive in March, Mr Roque said.rr"I have to admit, if we insisted on Western brands, we will still wait for its arrival," he added.rrMr Duterte, who has pursued warmer ties with China and has a strained relationship with many Western countries, has previously said he wanted to procure Covid-19 vaccines from China or Russia.rrThe vaccination programme will be crucial for Philippine efforts to revive its economy, which suffered a record 9.5 per cent slump last year due to strict and lengthy lockdowns that hit consumer spending and saw big job losses. REUTERSr
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