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Vulnerable population to be prioritized when COVID-19 vaccine is available

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Vulnerable population to be prioritized when COVID-19 vaccine is available
A health worker is pictured at the mega swabbing center in Philippine Sports Stadium in Sta. Maria, Bulacan on May 20, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions will be prioritized for COVID-19 immunization once a vaccine for the respiratory disease becomes available, Malacañang said.

The coronavirus pandemic that has so far infected 4.9 million people across the globe prompted an international race to find treatments and vaccines.

In an interview on GMA News on Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the government has already prepared an immunization plan for COVID-19.

“We’re praying na mabibigay natin sa lahat. Pero you can imagine dahil ito’y kinakailangan ng buong daigdig, di naman pwede na biglaan magkaroon ng vaccine for all,” Roque said.

(We’re praying we’ll be able to give the vaccine to all. But you can imagine, the whole world needs it so providing vaccine for all cannot be done immediately.)

“Siguro unahin ‘yung mga particularly vulnerable. Alam natin kung sino ‘yung mga vulnerable: ang mga matatanda pati ‘yung merong comorbidities,” he added.

(We will prioritize the vulnerable. We know who they are: the elderly and those with comorbidities.)

Once a vaccine becomes available, Roque said, the government would shoulder the costs for those who cannot afford it.

Duterte: Don’t die until a vaccine is available

In a public address Tuesday evening, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is hoping that a COVID-19 vaccine is ready by 2021.

“So kung ganoon wag ka sanang mamatay hanggang January. Hintayin mo ‘yung vaccine. Pag tinawag ka ng kamatayan sabihin mo p***** i** ka umalis ka diyan kay may hinihintay ako na vaccine. Hindi ko pa panahon mamatay,” the chief executive said.

(If that’s the case, I hope you don’t die until January. Wait for the vaccine. If the Grim Reaper calls you, tell him: son of a *****, go away, I am waiting for a vaccine. It’s not my time to die.)

He cited US biotech firm Moderna, which reported promising early results from the first clinical tests of an experimental vaccine against COVID-19. The company said the vaccine candidate appeared to produce an immune response on a small number of volunteers similar to that seen in people convalescing from the virus.

The World Health Organization said that developing a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months.

The new coronavirus has so far infected 12,942 people in the Philippines, with 837 deaths. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with a report from Agence France-Presse

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