President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he would get himself vaccinated for COVID-19 once it becomes available to ensure its safety for the public. He said he was also accepting Russia's offer to supply vaccines to the Philippines.
"Ako, pagdating ng bakuna, in public magpapa-injection ako. Ako maunang mapag-eksperimentuhan (When a vaccine arrives, I will have myself injected in public. I will be the first to be experimented on)," Duterte said in a midnight address to the nation.
"Kung pwede sa akin, pwede sa lahat. Ngayon, kung hindi pwede sa akin, yan problema (If it can be administered on me, it can be given to everybody. If it can't be, that's a problem)," he said.
Duterte said he was "very happy" with Russia's vaccine offer. "Ang Russia, kaibigan natin ito. Kaya ngayon, tinatanggap namin, kung ano supply, mag-usap pa kami kung ilan supply (Russia is our friend. That's why we are accepting the offer to supply)."
Up to five vaccine candidates are on Phase 3 human trials, the last step before commercial availability, Dominguez said on July 31. These include three from China and one each from the U.S. and the U.K., he said.
The Philippines, through the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, would buy enough vaccines for an initial 20 million people. At two doses each and at $10 per dose, the vaccination program could cost $400 million or P20 billion, Dominguez said.
On top the search for a vaccine, the Philippines will also hold clinical trials on Japanese-made anti-flu drug Avigan as possible treatment for COVID-19 patients.