President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he would "give preference" to COVID-19 vaccines by Russia and China as long as they would be proven effective. He also said western drugmakers "must be crazy" for asking for a reservation fee for their own vaccines.
Russia was the first country to offer to help the Philippines in its search for a vaccine. China followed, Duterte said in his weekly address to the nation.
"We will give preference to Russia and China provided that their vaccine is as good as any other in the market," the President said. "One good thing about China is you dont have to beg, you dont have to plead, unike other countries they want cash avdance."
Aside from calling drug makers "crazy" for asking for advance payments, Duterte said: "At the end of the day they want you to finance their research and the perfection of the vaccine."
The Philippines is preparing for phase three human trials on COVID-19 vaccines. This is the last stage before commecial availability.
Duterte also appealed to hospitals to increase their allocation of beds to COVID-19 patients.
Just seven months after the outbreak of the pandemic, and even before clinical trials of experimental vaccines have ended, some developed countries (the United States, Britain, the European Union, Canada and Japan) have put in orders for at least 3.1 billion doses, according to an AFP count.
U.S. President Donald Trump blazed this particular trail: His administration signed contracts guaranteeing at least 800 million doses from six manufacturers for a population of 330 million, to be delivered starting at the end of the year for some of the doses.
An initiative named Covax and backed by the World Health Organization, as well as CEPI and the global vaccine alliance group Gavi, aims to buy and equitably distribute two billion doses in 2021. Ninety-two developing countries and 80 developed countries have signed on, and the European Union on Monday announced a contribution of 400 million euros.
-- with a report from Agence France-Presse