Staff members unload vaccines donated by China at a Philippine Air Force base in Manila, the Philippines on Feb 28, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

MANILA — The Philippines received an additional batch of the Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine from China on Thursday morning, allowing the Southeast Asian country to continue its vaccination drive.

Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the country’s fight against COVID-19, said the government expects the rest of the vaccines it purchased from Sinovac could be delivered within this year.

The Philippines is ramping up the vaccination efforts as it continues to battle a surge of COVID-19 infections fuelled by more infectious variants and people’s complacency to safety protocols.

China donated the first batch of CoronaVac to the Philippines on Feb 28, allowing the country to kick off its vaccination campaign on March 1.

The Philippines has administered more than 1.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of April 27, primarily to frontline healthcare workers and the elderly. CoronaVac and AstraZeneca are the available vaccines in the country.

The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity.

The COVID-19 has sickened 1,020,495 people in the Philippines as of Wednesday since the disease emerged in January 2020. At least 17,031 have died from the disease.