Manila, Aug 21 (IANS) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte thanked China for supporting the fight against Covid-19 after a batch of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government arrived in Manila on Friday.
"My deepest gratitude goes to China for the various Covid-19 assistance extended in the past, including the donation of vital medical supplies and equipment and the provision to the technical support of Covid-19 response," Duterte said in a speech at the virtual ceremony welcoming the vaccines.
"These initiatives are indeed a testament of the goodwill of the Chinese government and the deep, strong relations between the Philippines and China," he added.
Duterte said the additional Sinopharm doses would boost the Philippines' efforts to ramp up its vaccination rollout, the Xinhua news agency reported.
"We are receiving these life-saving vaccines with much gratitude and high hopes as we continue our fight against the Covid-19," Duterte added.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian vowed to continue to help the Philippines fight the Covid-19.
"This difficult time highlights our friendship and partnership between our two nations and two peoples," Huang said, adding that China is "committed to continuing this cooperation with the Philippines and providing more vaccines to help defeat the virus and revitalize the economy."
China was the first to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines. It donated the first batch of CoronaVac to Manila on February 28, allowing the country to kick off its vaccination drive on March 1. As of Friday, China has been the biggest supplier of Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines.
The Philippines now has over 1.8 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 31,198 deaths. On Friday, it recorded 17,231 new Covid-19 infections, the highest ever daily tally since the outbreak began in January last year.
The Philippines has administered over 29 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with nearly 13 million people having been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 so far. The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year.