MANILA, March 1 — A batch of Sinovac vaccine CoronaVac donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, the first COVID-19 vaccine to reach the Southeast Asian country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the unloading of the vaccines at a Philippine Air Force base located in the capital, reported Xinhua news agency.

“I convey my sincere gratitude to the Chinese people and the government of China for this gesture of friendship and solidarity,” Duterte said in a televised address.

Duterte said receiving the CoronaVac vaccines from China makes another step forward in the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said it not only shows the friendship between the two countries and peoples but also signifies the intent of both militaries in jointly fighting against COVID-19 and deepening defense cooperation.

China has provided support to the Philippines’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the arrival of the Chinese vaccines is a sign of continued friendship between the Philippines and China.

“We are celebrating the arrival of the Sinovac vaccines,” Roque said during the live coverage of the vaccine arrival. The landing of the aircraft that brought the vaccines to the Philippines “symbolises hope,” he added.


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