President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday Russia expressed desire to build a pharmaceutical plant in the Philippines and bring in its COVID-19 vaccine. The President said he preferred sourcing the vaccine from Moscow and Beijing.
Duterte said he had a "serious talk" with outgoing Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev. "Russia is coming in. They want to establish here, gagawa sila ng planta, pharma and vaccine papasok din sila."
Russian President Vladimir Putin had touted Moscow's Sputnik V as the world's first COVID-19 vaccine that is ready for commercial release. Filipino authorities have slated it for human trials.
"Nakahanap na ako ng pera. I have the money already for the vaccine," Duterte said. Ideally, the entire population of over 100 million should have it and the poor will be prioritized, he said in his weekly address to the nation.
A Pulse Survey in September showed that nine in 10 Filipinos approve of Duterte's handling of the pandemic. The Philippines on Wednesday confirmed 1,910 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 346,536, of which 46,227 are active.
The President address the nation late Wednesday at the midpoint of current quarantine classifications that are effective until Oct. 31. Metro Manila is under GCQ, the second lowest quarantine, while the rest of the country is mostly under MGCQ, which is one notch lower.
Officials told Duterte that cases had begun to go down. In Metro Manila, the epicenter of the outbreak, active cases were more than halved to 7,830 from around 20,000 a month ago, said Sec. Carlito Galvez, the chief implementer of the country's pandemic response.
Contact-tracing was also improved up to 15 contacts per patient, Galvez said. The government currently has 34,057 active contact-tracers, said Interior Sec. Eduardo Ano.