MANILA, March 2 (CNA) - The Philippines has documented six cases of the South African coronavirus variant, its health ministry said on Tuesday (Mar 2), raising concern among its experts that the current vaccines might be less effective.

Of the six South African variant cases, three were detected locally and two from Filipinos returning from overseas. The origin of the other case was still being verified, it said.

The Philippines kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday. Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila.

It received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China-based Sinovac Biotech last Sunday. The country is among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive its first batch of the vaccine due to delivery delays.

Aside from China’s donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech, the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company but no fixed date has been set for the deliveries.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also said that an initial 525,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca were also scheduled to arrive on Monday.

However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery of the vaccines from AstraZeneca would be delayed by a week due to supply problems.