The Philippines launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday, a day after the arrival of a batch of Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine transported by aircraft Y-20 of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force.
Philippine General Hospital Director Gerardo Legaspi, a renowned neurosurgeon, was the first Filipino to receive the Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine on Monday. Legaspi urged Filipinos, especially health workers, to get the Sinovac vaccine, saying it is safe. The Philippine government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity in the country, starting with healthcare workers, the elderly and poorer communities, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
About 600,000 doses of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine - 500,000 donated by the Chinese government and 100,000 by the Chinese military - arrived in the Philippines on Sunday. This was the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine the Philippines received.
President Rodrigo Duterte went to the airport to welcome the vaccines and said he wanted to visit China and personally thank President Xi Jinping for the Sinovac vaccines, inquirer.net reported.
This was the fourth donation of COVID-19 vaccines by the Chinese military. The PLA has also provided vaccines to the militaries of Pakistan, Cambodia and Mongolia in February.
Observers said that the donations made by the PLA to neighboring countries show that China and these countries are true friends sharing weal and woe as military ties are the most sensitive, delicate and solid part of the bilateral relationship.
During the early COVID-19 outbreak in China, Pakistan donated all of its inventory masks in hospitals to China. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen visited Beijing in February 2020 when China was hit hard by the epidemic.
In the past days, more countries expressed their gratitude and confidence in Chinese vaccines in different ways.
Indonesia issued special stamps themed on the COVID-19 vaccination, and the stamp showed Indonesian President Joko Widodo receiving the Sinovac vaccine.
Chinese producer Sinopharm's vaccine won widespread praise from Hungarian netizens after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received a shot of the vaccine on Sunday. Hungary was the first European Union member state to purchase and authorize the use of Chinese vaccines for COVID-19.
Netizens swarmed online after the posts of Orban being administered the vaccine, with many thanking the government for adopting China's vaccines and making Hungary a leading country in Europe in terms of receiving vaccines.