BEST GIFT. Manila Mayor Francisco 'Isko Moreno' Domagoso speaks to reporters in a press briefing on the sidelines of the arrival of the two million Sinovac Covid-19 jabs at the NAIA Terminal 2 on Thursday (June 24, 2021). He said the arrival of the jabs is the best gift to Manila residents in celebration of the city's 450th founding anniversary. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – Manila Mayor Francisco 'Isko Moreno' Domagoso on Thursday said the arrival of 400,000 doses of Sinovac's coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine is the best gift for the city's 450th founding anniversary.

The doses procured by the city government were among the two million doses of the Chinese-made jabs that arrived via a Cebu Pacific commercial flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 at around 7:26 a.m.

"It happened in less than two months, since Day One when we submitted the documents. (Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque signed the documents. And very timely, eto regalo namin sa batang Maynila kasi ngayong araw 450th year ng Maynila (this gift is very timely for all Manilenos as the city is celebrating its 450th founding anniversary)," Domagoso told reporters.

The Manila City Council raised PHP298.5 million for the Sinovac purchase, made through a tripartite deal with the national government and with the assistance of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.

Domagoso added that they are excited about this delivery as this means the vaccination of another 200,000 residents in the next two weeks.

He also said it is a big help along with vaccines being provided by the national government to the local government units.

"Hopefully once the government achieved its (population protection target) by December, magiging masaya ang Pasko ng mga tao (this year's Christmas will be merrier for the public)," he added.

Manila also ordered 800,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines in January but the delivery may be in September yet.

Manila had already vaccinated about 41 percent of the city’s 800,000 target population.

On Tuesday, the Manila Health Department reported 35,572 received jabs, a one-day record. 

Meanwhile, National Task Force Against Covid-19 implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez said once the Covid-19 pandemic is addressed in Metro Manila through vaccination, the problem will be resolved by an "estimated 40 to 60 percent", as the region is considered the epicenter of the disease.

He added that the majority of the remaining 1.6 million Sinovac vaccines would be deployed in the provinces that are dealing with a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Galvez also lauded Sinovac for its reliability as demonstrated by the fact that it was able to immediately deliver massive quantities of the life-saving jabs within days of the signing of the contract.

He also added that the delivery of all 20.5 million Sinovac doses will be completed by September, which is earlier than November as stipulated in the delivery contract.

"Sa ngayon nakikita natin maganda na flow ng vaccine natin ang nakikita ko sa kanila mag-invest na lang sila (LGUs) sa response. Nakikita natin nagbabanta ang Delta variant ang recommendation ko sa kanila mag-stockpile na sila ng treatment medicines, palakas na sila ng contact tracing, testing at mag build up na sila ng modular hospital (So far, we see a good flow of vaccine. I see that they should just invest in the response efforts. We see that the Delta variant is posing a threat, my recommendation to them is that they stockpile treatment medicines, they strengthen contact tracing, testing and they build up a modular hospital)," Galvez said. (With reports from Marita Moaje/PNA)