Duterte: Poor Filipinos first-takers of COVID-19 vaccine once available

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - July 31, 2020 - 10:58am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said the beneficiaries of cash assistance from the government and the sick will be among the first to receive coronavirus vaccines once they become available in the market.

Duterte, who is pinning hopes on coronavirus vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firms, asked the public for patience, saying he hopes the situation would return to normal by December.

“I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal," he said.

Those who will be given priority access to coronavirus vaccine include poor Filipinos and hospitalized patients.

“Ang mauna ‘yung mga walang-wala and of course, ‘yung mga nasa hospital ‘yung mga sick or dying. Ang una ‘yung mga tao sa listahan na tumatanggap ng assistance sa gobyerno,” Duterte said.

Second on the list of people who will receive free vaccine from the government are the middle-income Filipinos.

The chief executive said the police and the military—the “backbone” of Duterte’s administration—will be third in line.

“‘Yung mga upper income, magbili na lang kayo,” the chief executive said.

The government’s plan is to conduct the vaccination of 20 million people—or 18.5% of the country’s 108 million population. Finance Secretary said the government is allotting P20 billion for the plan to purchase at least 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Beijing on Wednesday said it would give priority access to the Philippines once it successfully develops a coronavirus vaccine after Duterte “made a plea” to Chinese president Xi Jinping to prioritize the country when providing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chinese biopharmaceutical companies are responsible for three of the five vaccines that have moved into Phase 3 trials or large-scale testing on humans.

Military as implementing arm

Duterte, who has been criticized for his militarized response to a public health emergency such as COVID-19 pandemic, said he is assigning the Armed Forces of the Philippines to implement the immunization drive.

“There’s set-up, may task force. But implementing arm is military,” he said.

He later on said in his speech that nurses in “nearest police stations” may be tapped for the vaccination program.

Since Duterte declared a public health emergency over the country, there has been heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures, prompting critics to voice concerns on the heavy-handed measures imposed by the government.

Duterte also tasked retired military generals such as Peace Process Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to lead the government's coronavirus response.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far sickened 89,374 people in the Philippines, with 1,983 deaths.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 4, 2021 - 5:24pm

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

March 4, 2021 - 5:24pm

The EU's drug watchdog says on Thursday it had started a "rolling review" of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, a key step towards approval for use across the 27-nation bloc.

"EMA has started a rolling review of Sputnik V, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia's Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology," the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) says in a statement. —  AFP

March 2, 2021 - 7:10pm

A shipment of 3.94 million coronavirus jabs arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday, making Africa's most populous nation the world's third country to receive vaccines under Covax, a global scheme to provide free inoculations, an AFP journalist saw. 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, are the first of 16 million doses that Covax plans to deliver over the coming months to Nigeria, where they will be given first to healthworkers, the government said. — AFP

March 2, 2021 - 6:14pm

The health ministry announces that Iraq received 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by China, launching a long-awaited vaccination campaign.

Health ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr told reporters that the first delivery in the early hours meant inoculations could begin.

"The doses will be delivered to Baghdad's three main hospitals, and maybe to some provinces," says Badr, who confirmed the jabs were donations. — AFP 

March 1, 2021 - 9:12pm

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday became the first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine under the global Covax scheme, as US health workers prepared to distribute nearly four million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.

Covax, a scheme designed to ensure that poorer countries do not miss out on Covid-19 vaccines that have so far been largely hoovered up by rich nations, is aiming to deliver at least two billion doses by the end of the year.

Akufo-Addo received his AstraZeneca shot live on television along with his wife, a day before the rest of the first batch of 600,000 Covax doses are deployed across Ghana.

"It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it, so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine," the president said. — AFP

March 1, 2021 - 11:31am

Four million doses of the latest Covid-19 vaccine to get US approval will be delivered across the country as early as Tuesday, a senior administration official said.

The United States on Saturday authorized Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine for emergency use, boosting President Joe Biden's plan to battle the outbreak that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

The single-shot vaccine — the third type to be authorized — is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19, including against newer variants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said before giving it a green light. —  AFP

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