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Duterte slams ‘selfish’ nations on vaccines

Rudy Santos - The Philippine Star
Duterte slams âselfishâ nations on vaccines
President Duterte delivers his pre-recorded speech before the 76th United Nations General Assembly yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte lambasted yesterday rich countries over their “selfish” plan to give COVID-19 booster shots to their citizens as many poor nations suffer from an uneven distribution of the life-saving jabs.

“Mr. President, the picture is bleak. There is a man-made drought of vaccines ravaging poor countries,” Duterte said in his pre-recorded speech played before the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) early Wednesday morning.

“Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles. They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by,” he said. “This is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is – a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally nor morally.”

Duterte stressed the pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated everywhere and that vaccines are key to achieving this.

He also mentioned the Philippines’ contribution of $1 million to the COVAX Facility, a global vaccine-sharing scheme initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is our modest contribution to our collective fight against COVID-19,” Duterte said.

“We strongly urge our privileged partners to fully support the COVAX Facility and further strengthen other cooperation mechanisms. We need this to save more lives, break the cycle of variants and help ensure global economic recovery,” he said.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the government aims to inoculate all eligible population first before giving booster shots.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF), said last Monday that the country has so far received a total of 64,942,000 vaccine doses, including the 9,586,270 doses delivered from Sept. 13 to 19.

As government targets the inoculation of 70 percent of the country’s 109 million citizens, it has so far administered only 41,414,015 vaccine shots. There are 18.5 million Filipinos who have completed their second dose, while 22.8 million others have received their first dose.

Galvez remains upbeat, saying vaccine manufacturers in the United States, the United Kingdom and China have started sending a steadier supply to the country.

“By the end of October, we will reach more or less 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines delivered to the Philippines,” he said.

Likewise, deliveries of committed donations from the US-COVAX and GAVI (Vaccine Alliance) facility have also started to stabilize supply, Galvez said.

He noted that an additional 22 million doses are expected to arrive in the country by the end of this month or in the first week of October.

COVID-19 VACCINE PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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