World

Philippines' Duterte defends purchase of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended his government's decision to purchase Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines, saying they are as good as the shots developed by the Americans and the Europeans.

"The Chinese are not lacking in brains," Mr Duterte said on Wednesday.

"The Chinese are bright. They would not venture (into producing vaccines) if it is not safe, sure and secure."

Mr Duterte made the remarks as questions have been raised over the level of protection Sinovac Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine can provide, after researchers in Brazil released late-stage clinical data showing efficacy at 50.4 per cent, lower than initially announced.

Manila has locked in 25 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, with the first 50,000 expected to arrive next month.

Meanwhile, the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has authorised for emergency use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the first to be approved in the country. FDA head Rolando Enrique Domingo said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has shown a 95 per cent success rate, could be effective in preventing Covid-19.

The country is due to receive the first batch in the first quarter through the Covax facility, on top of a deal it is negotiating directly with the vaccine maker.

Mr Domingo also said Sinovac on Wednesday submitted its emergency use authorisation application. The Philippines reported 146 deaths on Wednesday - the most since Sept 14 based on Bloomberg data. Total cases stand at over 492,000. - REUTERS

WORLD