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: August 11, 2020 - 8:19pm

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)

August 11, 2020 - 8:19pm

The World Health Organization says any WHO stamp of approval on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review, after Russia announced Tuesday it had approved a vaccine.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia had become the first country to approve a vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against the new coronavirus.

"We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine," the United Nations health agency's spokesman Tarik Jasarevic tells reporters in Geneva at an online press briefing. — AFP

August 7, 2020 - 7:39am

President Donald Trump says that a vaccine may be produced ahead of the US presidential election on November 3 — a more optimistic timeline than given by his top infectious diseases doctor.

Asked by radio talk show host Geraldo Rivera whether a vaccine could come by the election, Trump says: "I think in some cases, yes, possible before. But right around that time."

Trump says the vaccine would be ready "sooner than the end of the year. Could be much sooner."

"We have a lot of vaccines under study by the way. We look like we're going to be really good on vaccines and therapeutics also," he says.— AFP

July 31, 2020 - 12:35pm

The Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomes the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte for the military to manage the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine once it is abailable.

Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the AFP, says the AFP chief has directed his staff to plan the task.

"Bagaman at kababanggit pa lang ng Pangulo ang tungkol sa bagay na yan, kaagad pong inatasan ng ating AFP Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos Jr. ang kanyang mga staff upang pagpaplanuhan at paghandaan yan before December kung kailan pinaniniwalaan na magkakaroon na ng vaccine para sa COVID-19," Arevalo says.

July 31, 2020 - 9:48am

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III says the Philippines will allocate around P20 billion to purchase COVID-19 expected to be available by "December."

Four vaccines from China, the United Kingdom and the United States are being looked at. The Department of Health will evaluate which is best to use.

"Vaccines will be for free to 'poorest of the poor'," Domingue said, adding that the Philippines targets to vaccinate 20 million people once COVID-19 vaccine is available. That's nearly a fifth of the 108 million people. — Philstar.com/Prinz Magtulis

July 30, 2020 - 11:40pm

Johnson & Johnson's announces that its lead vaccine candidate elicited a robust immune response as demonstrated by "neutralizing antibodies" in pre-clinical studies.

The data, published in journal Nature, showed that the company’s adenovirus serotype 26 nickname Ad26 vaccine successfully prevented subsequent infection and completely protected the lungs from the SARS-CoV2 virus in non-human primates in a single dose during the pre-clinical study.

The pre-clinical tests were conducted by researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in collaboration with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and others as part of its ongoing collaboration to accelerate the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

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